Friday, April 17, 2015

Announcing new Wilson Prize for essay on philosophy teaching

REMINDER: The submission deadline is October 1, 2015.

Teaching Philosophy is pleased to announce a new essay prize, the Arnold Wilson Prize. Details here and below the fold.

Subscribing to Teaching Philosophy

I've been posting information about the contents of Teaching Philosophy for a while, but you may not know how to subscribe. The basic information is here, but a rundown:

  • Members of the American Association of Philosophy Teachers receive online access free with membership.
  • Annual print subscriptions are $33, $40 for online, $53 or online and print.
  • Institutional subscriptions are (as expected). But I'd encourage your libraries to subscribe so that all of your faculty and students have access.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Seeking How to Teach articles

Teaching Philosophy is continuing its highly successful 'How to Teach' series, articles focusing on how to teach common courses in philosophy curricula. Having published articles in the series on critical thinking, early modern philosophy, comparative philosophy, business ethics, metaphysics, and philosophy of science, the journal would be happy to receive proposals for articles focusing on any of the following courses:

  • epistemology
  • philosophy of language
  • philosophy of religion
  • ancient philosophy
  • environmental ethics
  • political philosophy
  • philosophy and/through film
  • philosophy of law
  • the continental tradition
  • feminist philosophy
If you'd like to propose an article, please send me an e-mail at mjcholbi*at*cpp.edu. Thanks!

Latest issue of Teaching Philosophy

The latest issue of Teaching Philosophy is now available:


Sarah Cashmore
Changing Values in Teaching and Learning Philosophy: A Comparison of Historic and Current Educational Approaches

This paper examines the pedagogical values inherent in various traditions of philosophy education, from the ancient Greeks to current practices in Ontario high schools, and asks whether our current educational practices are imparting the philosophical values we wish to bestow upon our learners. I compare the approaches of Socrates, Descartes, and Dewey on the nature of philosophy and the pedagogical frameworks they defend for transmitting the “spirit” of philosophy, and then examine the Ontario curriculum guidelines for the teaching of philosophy. In past philosophical traditions, dynamic growth, free questioning, and social responsibility are considered essential to the practice of philosophy. Certain factors in today’s educational institutions limit students’ abilities to achieve those values, although the appeal to these values is the same. I end with recommendations for amendments to the Ontario curriculum expectations that would help put the philosophical development of the individual student more clearly at the centre of these guidelines.

Christopher Gifford
How to Teach Metaphysics
This paper examines the pedagogical values inherent in various traditions of philosophy education, from the ancient Greeks to current practices in Ontario high schools, and asks whether our current educational practices are imparting the philosophical values we wish to bestow upon our learners. I compare the approaches of Socrates, Descartes, and Dewey on the nature of philosophy and the pedagogical frameworks they defend for transmitting the “spirit” of philosophy, and then examine the Ontario curriculum guidelines for the teaching of philosophy. In past philosophical traditions, dynamic growth, free questioning, and social responsibility are considered essential to the practice of philosophy. Certain factors in today’s educational institutions limit students’ abilities to achieve those values, although the appeal to these values is the same. I end with recommendations for amendments to the Ontario curriculum expectations that would help put the philosophical development of the individual student more clearly at the centre of these guidelines.

Alexandra Bradner
How to Teach Philosophy of Science
Philosophy of science is a challenging course to teach. This paper offers suggestions for early-, middle- and late-career professors who teach philosophy of science at the undergraduate or graduate level. The advantages and disadvantages of four different course designs are discussed, and a list of possible syllabus topics is presented. The paper encourages a thoroughgoing approach to inclusive pedagogy: it recommends that we look for ways to highlight a range of underrepresented voices throughout the semester, instead of tacking on one or two feminist readings at the end of a course. The author reports success with two forms of student assessment, in particular: a peer participation grade and a series of short critical response papers. Also covered are learning goals, textbook selection, and faculty assessment.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What are the learning objectives for the philosophy undergraduate major?

Our administration is asking us (well, telling us) to come up with learning objectives for all our programs (BA, MA, PhD). Thinking about what our learning objectives are -- and should be -- made me curious both what other departments think of as the learning objectives for their majors, and what individual philosophers who think hard about their teaching think of as their objectives.

A couple of observations before you comment.

1. Derek Bok, in his book Our Underachieving Colleges, observes, I think rightly, that in most traditional majors the curriculum is designed -- and a lot of the instruction is conducted -- around the tiny fraction of students who will go to graduate school in that discipline. I think this is right largely because it makes sense of most of the conversations I have had with colleagues in my own and different disciplines over the years, and also of the numerous program reviews I have read in recent years.

2. A different point -- I teach two kinds of class, classes which mainly contain majors, and classes that contain no, or almost no, majors. And most of the latter are not gateway classes -- the students are near graduation, and this will be their only philosophy course. I conduct the latter courses very differently, and have somewhat different learning objectives for the students than for the classes which contain majors (though, in those classes, I do have different goals for different students -- in particular, I often have a number of pre-professional students in those classes, and try as much as I can to differentiate instruction accordingly. My request in this post is for you to tell me what the aims for majors should be.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why do some students become Philosophy majors? Survey questions sought.

My department is  working on a project for the department to try to get more systematic information about why undergrads become philosophy majors (and why students who might, don't).  As one component of that project, we're planning to conduct two online surveys—one of current philosophy majors and another of students who recently took introductory-level philosophy classes.  Obviously we're particularly interested in why women and members of certain racial minorities become majors at lower rates than men, and members of other racial groups. Thing is --being a philosophy department we are not over-endowed with expertise on how to frame or conduct surveys. We are going to enlist the help of experts but my colleague who is heading up the effort asked my department for initial suggestions of survey questions, and I thought, well, why not crowd-source it? Its entirely possible that other departments have already done this successfully, and it is quite likely that some of our readers will have useful suggestions of questions.  So -- suggest ahead.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

CFP: APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy

The Fall 2015 issue of the APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy will be devoted to the special topic of teaching philosophy in non-traditional settings, and we encourage readers to submit papers on this topic. We are interested in papers on pedagogical information and insights, on the particular intellectual challenges these settings present, and especially, on what you have learned about teaching philosophy, and about philosophy, from your experiences.
The following guidelines for submissions should be followed:
  • The deadline is March 2, 2015.
  •  Papers should be between 10-24 double spaced pp.
  • All papers should be sent to the editors electronically. The author’s name, the title of            the paper, and full mailing address should appear on a separate page. Nothing that          identifies the author or his or her institution should appear within the body or within the    notes of the paper. The title of the paper should appear on the top of the paper itself.
  • Authors should adhere to the production guidelines that are available from the APA. For example, in writing your paper to disk, please do not use your word processor’s footnote or endnote function; all notes must be added manually at the end of the paper. This rule is extremely important, for it makes formatting the papers for publication much easier.

Contributions should be sent electronically to guest editor Katheryn Doran, Hamilton College via Carolyn Mascaro (cmascaro@hamilton.edu), with “APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy submission” in the subject line. After an initial vetting, those papers that will be considered further will be forwarded to the general editors Tziporah Kasachkoff, The Graduate Center, CUNY (tkasachkoff@yahoo.com), and Eugene Kelly, New York Institute of Technology (ekelly@.nyit.edu), as well as to the other Newsletter reviewers Robert Talisse, Vanderbilt University (robert.talisse@vanderbilt.edu), and Andrew Wengraf (andrew@welch-wengraf.fsnet.uk). The papers will be blind-reviewed at all stages.