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Teach a philosophy class!

 
 
Reply Sun 24 Jan, 2010 09:34 pm
How would you teach your very own philosophy class (if you were given the opportunity)?

If you answer please specify which academic group you would be teaching (elementary school, middle school, high school, college, etc..). Would you vary your methods to fit the students' capabilities?

Would there be grades? What would you grade?
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jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 05:35 am
@mister kitten,
I taught Buddhism at evening school for three semesters. I also give casual lectures on the subject from time to time. I have studied philosophy and related subjects at graduate level.

I think such subjects require some degree of academic suitability. There are classes that teach 'philosophy for school-age children' but this would be a speciality, I feel. Evening classes were a challenge because the audience was really not ready for the level I wanted to teach. I had to work on audio-visuals, maps and illustrations, and use a lot of examples. Philosophy generally requires a high degree of abstract thinking ability.

So - I would prefer that (1) students were prepared to take the subject on (2) had the necessary thinking skills to consider the subjects properly and (3) were sufficiently diligent to read and do some work out of class to try and take it in.

Otherwise stick to something easier, like computer skills or macrame.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 07:21 am
@mister kitten,
mister kitten;122301 wrote:
How would you teach your very own philosophy class (if you were given the opportunity)?

If you answer please specify which academic group you would be teaching (elementary school, middle school, high school, college, etc..). Would you vary your methods to fit the students' capabilities?

Would there be grades? What would you grade?


It would depend on the course you are teaching. If it were a course in Introduction to Philosophy, you would have to choose between teaching it mostly historically, or mostly problematically. I would choose the latter, but choose a text which had readings from the great philosophers. Then, I might choose to cover (say) the problem of freedom of the will; the problem of our knowledge of the external world; the problem of what is mind; and maybe the problem of civil disobedience. We would read Plato, Hume, Descartes, and several other philosophers. (I am talking, of course, about college teaching) Of course, there would be grades. If you were teaching in an institution of learning, there would have to be grades. And you would have to make up an examination which covered what the students were supposed to know. You would certainly have two examinations, and maybe three. Some teachers give more exams. Then, of course, you would have to give final grades at the end, based on their examination grades. Maybe you would have them write a short essay, and grade that too.
Pyrrho
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 10:19 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;122362 wrote:
It would depend on the course you are teaching. If it were a course in Introduction to Philosophy, you would have to choose between teaching it mostly historically, or mostly problematically. I would choose the latter, but choose a text which had readings from the great philosophers. Then, I might choose to cover (say) the problem of freedom of the will; the problem of our knowledge of the external world; the problem of what is mind; and maybe the problem of civil disobedience. We would read Plato, Hume, Descartes, and several other philosophers. (I am talking, of course, about college teaching) Of course, there would be grades. If you were teaching in an institution of learning, there would have to be grades. And you would have to make up an examination which covered what the students were supposed to know. You would certainly have two examinations, and maybe three. Some teachers give more exams. Then, of course, you would have to give final grades at the end, based on their examination grades. Maybe you would have them write a short essay, and grade that too.



I would do something quite similar, except that I would be less interested in the readings being from famous philosophers, and more interested in them being understandable. And I would likely discuss different issues. But otherwise, I would do the same sort of thing you are describing for such a class.

Of course, I am not saying that I have any problems with your choices, and, indeed, have no problems with someone teaching it mostly historically. An introductory class is, out of necessity, not a complete and exhaustive study, so much will be left out no matter what one does.
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 10:46 am
@mister kitten,
I would base a class on a few philosophic texts, depending on the amount of time available, even if it is an introductory course. One of the most important skills to be learned from any philosophy course is the ability to read carefully and to understand the text itself; another is to be able to express the arguments and positions of important philosophers in a student's own words without completely distorting the original meaning--- only once this understanding and analysis is accomplished can a student be encouraged to venture on criticism, the third step.
Students would be graded upon 1) how well they outlined the texts, and a final essay that demonstrated that they understood the text.

If the class were composed of more tutored students who had some understanding of philosophy, I would facilitate discussions and orally presented essays to the class based on the texts read. Grades would be based on class discussion and these essays.
fast
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 11:07 am
@mister kitten,
[QUOTE=mister kitten;122301]How would you teach your very own philosophy class (if you were given the opportunity)? [/quote]
mister kitten;122301 wrote:


If you answer please specify which academic group you would be teaching (elementary school, middle school, high school, college, etc..). Would you vary your methods to fit the students' capabilities?

Would there be grades? What would you grade?


If I were given the opportunity to teach a philosophy class, I would decline the offer on the basis that I don't know enough about philosophy to do so. I wouldn't want to cheat those few students who are actually there (in college) to learn.

I think it would be nice if, from time to time, the instructors would intentionally express faulty reasoning for the purpose of highlighting the common errors and mistakes that the great philosophers have made throughout the years.

I'd like to see a class where great emphasis is placed on teaching people (in a fun way) how to reason, what common mistakes to be wary of, and to show ways of avoiding them ourselves.

Even if it were an introduction to philosophy class, I think it would be a good thing to cover such issues of logic on the side. You speak of how to teach, and I think keeping things fun and lively is the way to go. It doesn't need to be nor should it be dull. The material needs to capture the hearts and minds of the students and spark enthusiasm for the subject. If I were teaching, I'd want to leave the student wanting more.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 11:15 am
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;122399 wrote:
I would do something quite similar, except that I would be less interested in the readings being from famous philosophers, and more interested in them being understandable. And I would likely discuss different issues. But otherwise, I would do the same sort of thing you are describing for such a class.

Of course, I am not saying that I have any problems with your choices, and, indeed, have no problems with someone teaching it mostly historically. An introductory class is, out of necessity, not a complete and exhaustive study, so much will be left out no matter what one does.


It is up to the instructor to make the readings understandable, and that means that he should select readings he understands. Readings in introductory texts are selected to be understandable in the first place. I have never seen an introductory text that contains a Heidegger reading. I, myself, would feel an obligation to introduce student to Plato, or to Descartes, in addition to discussion of the problems, since for many, if not most, this introductory course may be the last and only time they will read such authors. And they ought to leave college with at least a taste of Plato. Don't you think?

---------- Post added 01-25-2010 at 12:22 PM ----------

fast;122421 wrote:


If I were given the opportunity to teach a philosophy class, I would decline the offer on the basis that I don't know enough about philosophy to do so. I wouldn't want to cheat those few students who are actually there (in college) to learn.

I think it would be nice if, from time to time, the instructors would intentionally express faulty reasoning for the purpose of highlighting the common errors and mistakes that the great philosophers have made throughout the years.

I'd like to see a class where great emphasis is placed on teaching people (in a fun way) how to reason, what common mistakes to be wary of, and to show ways of avoiding them ourselves.

Even if it were an introduction to philosophy class, I think it would be a good thing to cover such issues of logic on the side. You speak of how to teach, and I think keeping things fun and lively is the way to go. It doesn't need to be nor should it be dull. The material needs to capture the hearts and minds of the students and spark enthusiasm for the subject. If I were teaching, I'd want to leave the student wanting more.


The instructors don't have to reason fallaciously. The students will be happy to do that for them. No charge. I agree that philosophy should (in part) always be a course in critical thinking whatever the level. That is partly what analytic philosophy is all about. Students vary in ability and in enthusiasm. Some students think that critical thinking is "dry". They prefer what is "wet". You cannot please all the people, all the time. Nor should you want to.
pantheras
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 04:34 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;122407 wrote:
I would base a class on a few philosophic texts, depending on the amount of time available, even if it is an introductory course. One of the most important skills to be learned from any philosophy course is the ability to read carefully and to understand the text itself; another is to be able to express the arguments and positions of important philosophers in a student's own words without completely distorting the original meaning--- only once this understanding and analysis is accomplished can a student be encouraged to venture on criticism, the third step.
Students would be graded upon 1) how well they outlined the texts, and a final essay that demonstrated that they understood the text.


I would do this in some luxury class with available extra cash and women, lets say 1 year.

Then teach them different idea bindings, they would participate on somewhere out of university plenty of ideas and make any project. (could be whatever - programming, architecture, business,...) Also 1 year.

Then separate them and let them live individually like homeless while have to get food from garbage - stealing or begging would be forbidden. Lets say 6 months.

Then teach them to combine physics with psychology - the affect of that machine to this behaviour. Combine animal with social observations - comparation fox (or whatever animal) with specific type of person.
And there could be even more combination trainings which I cannot think of now, but the point is obvious.
0 Replies
 
Pyrrho
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 05:21 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;122426 wrote:
Pyrrho;122399 wrote:
I would do something quite similar, except that I would be less interested in the readings being from famous philosophers, and more interested in them being understandable. And I would likely discuss different issues. But otherwise, I would do the same sort of thing you are describing for such a class.

Of course, I am not saying that I have any problems with your choices, and, indeed, have no problems with someone teaching it mostly historically. An introductory class is, out of necessity, not a complete and exhaustive study, so much will be left out no matter what one does.

It is up to the instructor to make the readings understandable, and that means that he should select readings he understands. Readings in introductory texts are selected to be understandable in the first place. I have never seen an introductory text that contains a Heidegger reading. I, myself, would feel an obligation to introduce student to Plato, or to Descartes, in addition to discussion of the problems, since for many, if not most, this introductory course may be the last and only time they will read such authors. And they ought to leave college with at least a taste of Plato. Don't you think?...


"Less interested" does not mean "not interested". I would include some Plato in an introductory course, as some of his works are easy enough, and I agree that everyone who graduates from college should have read at least a little Plato.

I agree that Heidegger would not be a good choice for an introductory course, and, in fact, I would tend to avoid him as much as possible in other classes. I would never want to teach a class on him. (It is fine with me if people graduate from college having never read any of him at all.)
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Jan, 2010 12:44 pm
@mister kitten,
What is not taught in most high schools is the ability to examine arguments critically; in a modern democracy this seems important if its citizens need to be able to separate propaganda from reasoned arguments for or against certain policies or regulations. An unprotected mind, is at best useless and at worse, dangerous to society.

While the careful and critical reading of a selection of the best philosophers both gives models for thinking as well as topics for analysis, class reading and discussion of contemporary writing drawn from a variety of sources (from both print and internet media) would also serve to provoke criticism.

Alongside of this it would be useful to teach some basic formal logic--- and especially the recognition of informal fallacies--- as well as argumentative patterns (e.g. the difference between inductive and deductive expositions, or proper causal inferences) that from a functional viewpoint require different kinds of warrants for conclusions.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Jan, 2010 01:05 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;123058 wrote:
What is not taught in most high schools is the ability to examine arguments critically; in a modern democracy this seems important if its citizens need to be able to separate propaganda from reasoned arguments for or against certain policies or regulations. An unprotected mind, is at best useless and at worse, dangerous to society.

While the careful and critical reading of a selection of the best philosophers both gives models for thinking as well as topics for analysis, class reading and discussion of contemporary writing drawn from a variety of sources (from both print and internet media) would also serve to provoke criticism.

Alongside of this it would be useful to teach some basic formal logic--- and especially the recognition of informal fallacies--- as well as argumentative patterns (e.g. the difference between inductive and deductive expositions, or proper causal inferences) that from a functional viewpoint require different kinds of warrants for conclusions.


Many places teach a course callled, critical thinking, or informal logic, that are like what you suggest.

Informal logic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
0 Replies
 
HexHammer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2010 10:02 pm
@mister kitten,
1) teach the classes basic psycology, to make them understand human nature, make them avoid naivity for demagogues manipulation, etc.

2) might spend more time tearing bad philosophy apart, than teaching philosophy.
- 99% of religion are nonsens, but good for keeping you on the narrow path of good morale.
- look at Buddism, Buddah achive his state of enlightmen in babble. He ended up as a blob which would lead to diabetes, worshippers useing ledtoxic scentburning.
- BUT!!! Their strong meditation techniques are very praiseable, buddist monks in China has kept their sanity in prison isolation for years ..that's awesome!
(sorry for picking on Buddism, it could be Christianity, communism, Kirkegaard ..etc)

3) sound philosopy should always be priotized, and mastrubational disregarded.
- ~80% of all philosophy are only of little use, shortsighted, naive ..etc. Try make people think in bigger pictures. Think out of the box.

4) might go for middleschool, too lazy to gain enough knowledge to teach on higher lvl.
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