Sunday, February 26, 2012

Musing upon teaching philosophy

I have been teaching based on a pedagogy that goes against many of his instincts.  That is, be as open, informative, and explicit as possible. Why is that against my instincts? Because it feeds into student's prior "training" to memorize and regurgitate material without understanding ... although they tend to fail the tests as I write them such that pure regurgitation will only give one the feeling that one is correct without actually being so, which surprises many like a sucker punch when they receive their grades. I have yet to reconcile my instincts with my pedagogical concerns, and my repeated warnings that they will feel sucker-punched if they do not really engage the material has not been well-heeded.

Currently, I am attempting to make the arguments as accessible as possible.  Since I teach first and second-year introductory courses as history of philosophy courses, e.g., we read Plato, Aristotle, the moderns, etc., accessibility is an issue.  Only my logic course is contemporary.  I hope that going over the material will make it understandable and inspire most to greater engagement.  However, to exhibit the instinctual tension I feel, I tell you that I provide far more written presentation material, office hours, and take-home guides than I ever received in my own training at two institutions, and it is the prevalence of material that worries me.  Few learn without the effort of discovery, and I worry that I have become too much a mediator of the ideas such that the students are not able to grasp them without my mediation.

Bah, the internal monologue of a junior professor....

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