© 2018 – Routledge
Some students find philosophy engrossing; others are merely bewildered. How can instructors meet the challenge of teaching introductory-level philosophy so that students, regardless of initial interest or skill, come to understand and even enjoy the subject?
For nearly a decade, renowned philosopher and teacher Steven M. Cahn offered doctoral students a fourteen-week, credit-bearing course intended to prepare new instructors on how to most effectively teach undergraduates. Dramatic results were achieved, and at the schools where the new professors went to teach, the department chairs reported how much better students were now performing. In this book, Cahn captures the essence of that course, so that its central insights are widely available to all philosophy instructors.
Many of the topics he discusses would be of interest to any dedicated college instructor: a teacher’s responsibilities; the keys to effective teaching; the essentials of a successful course; the proper approach to term papers, examinations, and grades; methods of evaluating teaching; and suggestions of how administrators should demonstrate that they take teaching seriously. Such matters are covered in the first seven chapters and in the final, 14th chapter. The intermediate five chapters focus on teaching introductory philosophy, and in particular, on critical thinking, free will, philosophy of religion, ethics, and political philosophy.
Cahn’s writing is lucid and lively, uses numerous vivid examples, and avoids all educational jargon. In sum, this book is not only a guide on how to engage and inspire students but also an inspiration for teachers themselves.
"For decades, Steve Cahn's students and colleagues have gained enormously from his constructive advice about teaching philosophy. This book enables a far wider audience to learn from him. In its general suggestions about teaching, as well as in its specific insights into introducing particular philosophical topics, it distills the wisdom accumulated in a lifetime -- a lifetime imbued with passion for philosophical ideas and for their broad dissemination."
-Philip Kitcher, John Dewey Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University
"Professor Cahn’s book is a valuable guide for teachers who want to have dedicated students. It concentrates especially on what students have a right to expect of a properly conceived, well-taught, and successfully administered course. More than that, it offers thoughtful insights into teaching such topics as reasoning, free will, philosophy of religion, ethics, and political philosophy. Even seasoned veterans of the classroom will find this book useful."
- William Mann, Professor Emeritus, University of Vermont
"Everything and everyone enters here, from Theocritus to Archie Bunker, from Plato to Thoreau, about ethics and reasoning and more. Philosophy appealing and unfrightening and learned enlivens the chapters of this reflection on how best to lead students into the thinking world."
-Mary Ann Caws, Distinguished Professor Emerita of English, French, and Comparative Literature and Resident Professor, Graduate School, CUNY
Chapter 1. A Teacher’s Responsibilities
Chapter 2. How Teachers Succeed
Chapter 3. A Teacher’s Concerns
Chapter 4. Papers And Examinations
Chapter 5. Grades
Chapter 6. A Teacher’s Role
Chapter 7. Teaching Graduate Students
Chapter 8. Teaching Introductory Philosophy
Chapter 9. Teaching Reasoning
Chapter 10. Teaching Free Will
Chapter 11. Teaching Philosophy Of Religion
Chapter 12. Teaching Ethics
Chapter 13. Teaching Political Philosophy
Chapter 14. Taking Teaching Seriously
About The Author
Bibliography Of Steven M. Cahn