One of the most important parts of teaching philosophy is the exploration of how philosophical texts can help us understand our own lives. My commitment to philosophy as a mode of critique, including self-critique, guides my pedagogical choices. To enable my students to engage in this exploration and to bring out the diverse strengths of my students, I employ a feminist and student-centered pedagogy. Feminist pedagogies, like other critical pedagogies, challenge hierarchies that have historically operated in the classroom. By destabilizing notions of expertise and models of learning that privilege content memorization, classroom authority becomes de-centered. The instructor is no longer the definitive source of knowledge, but acts rather as a guide. I aim to turn my classrooms into communities of philosophical inquiry, where I act as a facilitator to encourage more reticent students, of all genders and races, to enter the conversation. Using feminist, inclusive, and student-centered pedagogy, even my larger classes are discussion based.
Innovative Grading Methods
In 2016, after reading Linda Nilson’s Specifications Grading book, I revised my Introduction to Philosophy course to use the new method, which is a mastery-based grading system. I am now using specifications grading in most of my other classes. For more information about Specifications Grading, here is the recent article I published with Dr. David Concepción in Teaching Philosophy.
The idea for the community-engaged Philosophy Outreach Project (POP) emerged with a survey of roughly 250 public and private high schools in 2015 to inquire into the state of philosophy education throughout Indiana. Over half of the schools responded, and of those who replied, only eight had philosophy classes in their curricula and seven had philosophy clubs. Over the next few years, my students and I visited six of those schools during 10 site visits and discovered a link between access to enrichment opportunities and socio-economic status.
In 2018, I taught the first section of “Philosophy for High School,” a community-engaged learning course that focuses on (1) collaborating with high school students and teachers in Indiana during site visits, (2) maintaining a club at Muncie Central, (3) developing philosophy resources for high school students and teachers, and (4) hosting a pre-college philosophy conference at Ball State.