3 Tips For Your First Philosophy Class

You enrolled in a philosophy class? Cool! You might have heard a few things about philosophy. But — on average — few people know much about academic philosophy. So here’s a quick introduction to your first philosophy class. It’ll cover the basics of what your philosophy teacher cares about and what they probably expect from you.

1.  Reason Well

The quality of our judgment matters in many contexts. It matters when we’re voting, when we’re raising children, and when deciding how to spend our time, etc. In each of these cases, we need to be able to

  • find information.
  • understand information.
  • explain information.
  • evaluate information.

And this is similar to what we will do in a philosophy class. So your grade in a philosophy class is a matter of how well you understand, explain, and evaluate information — where “information” is just the stuff you read and discuss for class.

But that’s not very specific. You probably want to know how to evaluate and explain the information we come across in a philosophy course. For instance, is it enough to say, “I disagree with So-and-so because I believe that _______”? The short answer: no.

In a philosophy class, it doesn’t really matter what we believe. Academic philosophers care more about Continue reading 3 Tips For Your First Philosophy Class

Classroom Poster Sessions: A win for you and your students

Last week, the Free Will & Science course finished up their poster sessions. It was one of the most enriching classroom experiences I’ve ever witnessed.† In case you’re interested, here’s a post about the why and how of classroom poster sessions — including templates for your own classroom. Continue reading Classroom Poster Sessions: A win for you and your students

Grading Shorthand: Quick, Consistent, and Constructive Feedback

Grading with shorthand allows me to grade papers quickly. This is great for me, of course, but —more importantly — it’s great for students. Using grading shorthand means that students get prompt, consistent, and constructive feedback.

I’ve included the key to my grading shorthand below. I’ve also included the printer-friendly, PDF version of the key that I give to students.  Continue reading Grading Shorthand: Quick, Consistent, and Constructive Feedback

30+ Online Resources For Studying & Teaching Philosophy

Below is a list of online resources for studying and teaching philosophy. Feel free to share it and/or add your own suggestions. Continue reading 30+ Online Resources For Studying & Teaching Philosophy

What do philosophers do, anyway?

Lots of people ask me this question. Students. Friends. My mom!

I spend a lot of time with philosophers, so you might think that I have a good answer to this question. Alas, my answer usually sucks. You can find some of my worst answers to this question over at The American Philosophical Association (APA) Blog: “You’re a philosopher, eh? What do philosophers do?

I’ve also shared my general thoughts on how to answer this question in that post. But if you want really good advice on how to answer this question, check out what philosophers are saying in the comments.

Excerpt

Let me be the first to admit that I’m doing it wrong. My philosophy pitch is…well, boring. And my delivery is awful. When someone asks me about what I do, my first (and now-automatic) response is a sigh.

What can I say? When people so reliably respond to philosophy with confusion or condescension, I become a little insecure. Unfortunately, insecurity doesn’t help. It just makes my next philosophy pitch even worse. I need to break the negative cycle.

 

Special thanks to philosopher Skye Cleary for connecting me to the APA blog.

Featured image: “Philosophy” from dakine kaneCC BY 2.0, cropped, adjusted color