Teaching Philosophy

Teaching philosophy is hard. There is no method, no proper way of teaching the subject. There is no guide, you are forced to create something. It becomes a painful exercise. You want, somehow, to transmit the same things that you have acquired over your time in philosophy. This is not possible. The best you can do is keep pointing at the door, beckoning the students to enter through it.

I do this by trying to turn the claims of the philosophers I teach onto the students. I like to say that the philosopher is making a claim about them. That is, most philosophers have some conception of the human person built into their philosophies. I tell my students that these people are telling them what they are. This seems to strike them. If I can get the philosopher to grab them by the throat, they cannot escape their claims. 

If I can get them to start thinking about what they are, they may be changed in the process. This is the start of real philosophical work. If you are not wrestling with yourself, you are not doing philosophy (in the right way). This is my hope in my teaching: That I can get my students to wrestle with themselves. That they may do the kind of work that so often goes undone. That they may work on themselves. 

God help me.

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~ by Marcus Todd on September 28, 2012.

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