Friday, July 30, 2010

Stephen Finn “Creating in class exercises to hone philosophy skills”

Stephen Finn “Creating in class exercises to hone philosophy skills”

He’s under contract to create an exercise book—this is part of the writing of it. Send him an email if you want to use any of his exercises.

[Kinds of exercises:
Arguments/critical thinking
Intuition listing
Looking carefully over schemes/lists
Close reading
Decision making/question answering.]

Today the agenda is to develop a list of philosophy skills and exercises that work those skills.

What are the skills students need to succeed in a philosophy course?]

Critical reading for philosophy
Finding an argument.
Identifying intent
Indentifying larger conversation.
Analysing arguments
Writing skills
Reflective equilibrium.
Rauhut’s quizzes
How to ask a question.
Socratic prompts from  good
Engaging other views.
Oral presentation.
“understanding the question to which their reading is the answer”
Dealing with thought experiments
“Distinguishing fact and opinion claims” (AARGH why would a philosopher use this distinction.)

He hands out some exercises.

We do Skill #3 analyzing philosophical texts: What is the au doing—claiming, arguing, questioning, informing, defining, etc.

Group one on skill one
• Group response: “We got hung up on just what you meant by the instructions.”
• “I like to emphasize re-reading. Have them read it. Say what they think. And then read it again.
• Use one sheet per group to force group interaction.
• “what did you learn new on the third reading”

Group two and three: Skill three
• You need background on what these things are.
• Write numbers next to sentences. Let students write multiple numbers.
• Annotate text on a smart board. Give them your own annotated text with you system.

Group four on skill 9
• Group response: “We got hung up on just what you meant by the instructions.”

“Are there uniquely philosophical skills?”
“No. what we are doing is reinforcing skill sets across disciples. Right now, the way the university is compartmentalized, students compartmentalize not just their knowledge, but their skills. Philosophy breaks that down.”

Small groups again

• State elaborate exemplify: Reading exercises. For each passage state the point, elaborate on it, exemplify it. “Do you add evaluation later” “Not that this stage.”
• Analytical outline for their own writing. You’ve got a draft, try to figure out what it actually says. “Does this carry over into other texts?”
• Have two students attempt to summarize the same paragraph. See if they match.
• Powerpoint arguments with blanks.

“I think the more structure the better with introductory students.”

1 comment:

Evelyn Brister said...

Rob, Your live-blogging needs more editorializing!
What did you think of this proposal? It sounds so, um, dry. Cut-and-dried. There's-an-answer-now-find-it exercises. Taking the philo- out of philosophy. At least that's how I read your notes.

"more structure?" Oh, I thought a major point of my job in Intro was to teach comfort with and interest in ambiguity and multiple meanings.

I'm in favor of exercises-I have my fall intro course set up so 60% of the grade is based on homework puzzles and in-class exercises.'s got to be fun. Fun so they'll do it and fun so I don't hate grading it.

I'm thinking of using one of your prior proposals.
Have you put a version of this into practice?