Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ascending the Matterhorn during your office hours

I wanted to share an idea I implemented this term that seems positively received by my students. Starting in the sixth week of my Moral Philosophy course, we began to read Kant's Groundwork. As I remarked to the student, Kant's writings are the philosophical equivalent of the Matterhorn: steep, forbidding, Teutonic.
I hit upon the idea of scheduling some additional office hours during which I would work through the assigned readings with students. I reasoned that since I have to read in order to prepare my class meetings, it couldn't hurt to have students present so that we could read together.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Submit to Teaching Philosophy!

A reminder to those as yet unaware: Teaching Philosophy now has on online submission system, at teaching-philosophy.com. I know there's lot of great teaching-related scholarship out there for the world to discover, so please consider submitting to the journal.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The rational, non-expert student reader

Last week, I had a terrific teaching-related experience: At Becko's invitation, I gave a pair of teaching-related workshops at Lewis and Clark College. The first, for the faculty teaching in the college's first-year Exploration and Discovery program, addressed motivating students to read, improving their reading skills, and using assigned readings as platforms for in-class discussion and inquiry. The second discussed ways of gathering information about student learning so that we don't have to rely solely on numerical student evaluations for insight into how effective our teaching is.

A number of important themes were explored in the workshops, but I wanted to share some research and insights on two matters that seemed to strike a chord with the participants. They concern an old teaching bugaboo: student reading.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Teaching Philosophy, 35.2

The newest issue of Teaching Philosophy is out. There's a lot of great stuff, including articles on narrative pedagogy, metacognition, and student relativism, as well as the usual selection of book reviews.

Abstracts below the fold:

Friday, May 4, 2012

Relativism and Psychological Egoism

I've started revamping my Intro to Philosophy syllabus and have decided to tackle the inevitable discussion of relativism and psychological egoism early on by anticipating these objections with some readings.

I thought about using chapters from Snare's The Nature of Moral Thinking but a friend who used Snare in her class said that students found it difficult. I've tentatively settled on Rachels "The Challenge of Cultural Relativism," which appears in many anthologies, and perhaps also his "Humans are not Always Selfish". Someone recommended that I look at chapters from Shafer-Landau Whatever Happened to Good and Evil?

Any other recommendations or thoughts about the aforementioned possibilities?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Stop telling students to study for exams"

A provocative claim from David Jaffee: we should stop thinking that encouraging students to study for exams is "responsible academic practice."

Exams have become, in his estimation, a creature of the pernicious student attitude he calls "instrumentalism":

The Seven Ages of Teaching

You all remember the speech from As You Like It — "all the world's a stage ...And one man in his time plays many parts/His acts being seven ages"?

Paula Marantz Cohen has identified the corresponding Seven Ages of Teaching (below the fold). Which age are you? (I fear I have an age-identity disorder, finding elements of myself in the second, third, fourth, and fifth ages)