Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Latest issue of Teaching Philosophy: philosophy in high schools

The latest issue of Teaching Philosophy is available electronically. It's a very special issue: Guest edited by Mitch Green and Jana Mohr Lone, it focuses on teaching philosophy in high schools. Those of you engaged in high school philosophy teaching will, I hope, find valuable advice in these articles. Those of us working at the college and university level should gain a new appreciation of the challenges and rewards of working with this population. Do check it out!

Unequal Classrooms

I thought some of you might be interested in my opinion piece over at the Chronicle of Higher Ed. I'm on vacation, so haven't been able to follow the comments but I'm looking forward to reading them when I get back.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Great Little Story about Cheating


"Ultimately the problem, both then and now, was an education system that made pupils’ futures contingent on their ability to regurgitate information. In that kind of system, with so much pressure and competition, perhaps cheating is the only sane response. Michael Gove wants more learning by rote, tougher exams and more competition between pupils in British schools. Which probably means more cheating, too. "

And, of course, we are seeing the same problems in the US.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The second smartest person in the room?

I very much enjoyed this letter to Janet Napolitano, the recently appointed head of the University of California, from Berkeley faculty member Michael O'Hare. I won't comment on the significance of the head of homeland security being appointed to lead a system the most indelible recent image of which is security officers wielding pepper spray against student protestors.

What I really liked was the pithy way O'Hare summed up the state of college teaching:
For the most part, we are teaching students how to be the second-smartest person in a room with one person who knows the truth, but no-one in the big world pays for that skill: you get paid to be good at finding new truths, and making other people smart.
O'Hare's description resonates with my picture of what is often thought of as a "good student": someone who knows how to echo the instructor, but is completely helpless when given the autonomy to investigate things on their own. In my article on intentional learning, I call these performing learners:

Friday, July 5, 2013

Becko's big shout out

So turns out one of ISW's own, Becko Copenhaver, has been named teacher of the year at Lewis and Clark College. Congratulations (obviously!) -- and check out a video and interview with Becko here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

3 questions about asking questions

I suspect we all agree that questions are at the heart of philosophy.  I was therefore struck by Maryellen Weimer's report of a conversation she had with a colleague about the use of questions in the classroom.
The conversation started with concerns over the quantity and quality of questions students ask—those earnest questions about what’s going to be on the exam and gently demanding queries about what the teacher “wants” in almost any kind of written assignment. Those questions are important to students, but they certainly are not the questions of curious learners nor are they the type of questions that motivate learning and intellectual development.