Thursday, June 28, 2007

Was Socrates so great anyway?

The name of this blog pays homage to Socrates, whose fame as a philosopher rests in part on his eminence as a teacher. Many of us at least pay lip service to Socrates as a model not only for teaching philosophy but for teaching generally. So does Socrates deserve his status as a model for philosophy teachers, and if so, why? His temperament? His methods? What do you take from Socrates that influences your own teaching? Are there aspects of 'the Socratic method' that can be used to teach philosophy effectively in an academic context?

Welcome — and what to expect

Welcome to In Socrates' Wake. As the immodest title of this blog suggests, this blog's purpose is to stimulate dialogue and disseminate ideas about the teaching of philosophy as an academic discipline. I plan to post a few items per week, some of which have been on my mind for some time, others of which are prompted by my current teaching experiences and investigations of teaching. Over the coming months, you can expect discussion of all of the following:

  1. Techniques for organizing class meetings, including crafting lectures, encouraging student discussion and involvement, etc.

  2. Curricular and program design, such as designing courses and developing philosophy major programs

  3. Teaching-related technologies, including the WWW and course management systems (e.g., Blackboard)

  4. The assessment of student learning, including how to evaluate student performance

  5. Developing student writing, and other 'subskills' of philosophy, such as critical thinking

  6. Learning theory, insofar as it informs good teaching of philosophy

I'd also like to hear from readers about a wide range of other more 'personal' issues pertaining to the teaching of philosophy: why we teach, how the profession prepares us to teach, the delights and frustrations teaching brings. Since the demise of Metatome, there is not (to the best of my knowledge) a blog devoted to discussion of teaching philosophy, so I hope ISW can fill a niche within the field. Please feel free to drop me a line (michael *at* cholbi *dot* com) and check my profile. Again, welcome!