I am committed to teaching to the imagination. I view teaching as inspiring in students the desire and skills to rethink, reexamine, and reconsider the terms of their experience. I take my teaching philosophy to facilitate three major skills invaluable for philosophical thinking: 1) empathy; 2) exegesis; and 3) eloquence.
First, I believe students learn best when instructors are mentors who learn of their diverse backgrounds, their interests, their concerns, and goals. This offers instructors the opportunity to understand what motivates students and how they can grow. By mentoring students, instructors encourage empathy as a philosophical skill with which to approach the nuance and complexity of philosophical problems in the classroom. I view empathy as promoting the broadening of appreciation for philosophical problems. This guided me in my Basic Problems in Philosophy course, for example, to choose readings that were sensitive and spoke to students’ backgrounds, fomenting their imaginative reconsiderations of philosophical questions and answers. These readings included Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as a complement to Plato’s Apology and Crito, and Enrique Dussel’s The Invention of the Americas as a complement to Descartes’ Meditations. This proved important in teaching students the importance of pluralism and to develop the appreciation of philosophical contributions from a variety of sources and contexts. Students engaged texts charitably whatever their tradition, seeking to understand views comprehensively and inspire new and fresh angles to traditional philosophical problems.
Second, I believe that lectures and assignments should use exegesis to present the stakes of philosophical debates and encourage innovation and reconsideration through concrete and critical engagement with philosophical arguments and the history of philosophy. I view exegesis as promoting the deepening of appreciation for philosophical problems. In fomenting the reconstruction of texts’ fundamental positions, students learn how to approach texts as responses to complicated problems with long histories. In my Existentialism course, for example, students wrote short exegetical papers that reconstructed the components behind Kierkegaard’s idea of “faith” and Beauvoir’s notion of the “second sex” by studying a selected film closely. They were asked to say how the film Doubt illustrates Kierkegaard’s view of faith as belief and not knowledge. Students learned to rearticulate arguments by searching beneath the text’s surface for the stakes, implications, and assumptions motivating key notions in existentialist philosophy.
Third, I am committed to the idea of easing barriers between students by valuing diverse contributions and offering constructive criticism that encourages productive class discussion and active forms of learning. I understand better communication between students to foment the eloquent presentation and imaginative sketching of philosophical problems. I view eloquence as promoting the articulation of appreciation for philosophical problems. While broadening and deepening students’ appreciation for complicated themes is fundamental, learning and thinking occurs as well through the articulation of opinions in clear, concise, and compelling manner. In my Contemporary Moral Issues course, a discussion-based class, I earmarked Fridays for debates on the strengths and weaknesses of arguments from weekly readings. Students understood the importance of preparing for class discussion and were assigned a short reflection assignment to encourage this. In my Bioethics course, further, I made use of contemporary news articles to structure group work in a way that stimulated discussion among students, fomented student-led debate, and promoted the clear articulation of opinions and disagreements with one another.
Lastly, I believe in an interdisciplinary and pluralistic approach to teaching. My training in history and political science helps me combine empathy, exegesis, and eloquence through awareness of the different methods, questions, answers of other fields of study. Please see this teaching portfolio for further information about my teaching experience and sample syllabi.
2020: Introduction to the History of Metaphysics
2020: Introduction to the History of Social and Political Philosophy
2019: Introduction to Bioethics
2018: Contemporary Moral Issues
2017: Existentialism and Modern European Philosophy
2016: Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy
2015: Introduction to the Philosophy of Nature
2015: Basic Problems in Philosophy