I have a decade of teaching experience as a philosophy instructor, and before that as a tutor when I was completing my undergraduate degree at Grand Valley State University. I have a taught in a variety of settings, including online, at the community college level, and at a major university. I have taught a variety of courses, including Introduction to Philosophy, Critical Thinking, Ethics, Contemporary Moral Issues, and Logic & Law. I have a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Miami.
And perhaps most importantly, I have a passion for Philosophy, and a talent for making the subject accessible and relatable to students. Students often wonder just why they are required to take something as (apparently) frivolous as a philosophy class. For some students, it’s hard to see the point of studying something like philosophy, because they don’t see anything that they can do with it. I like to begin my answer to those students with a favorite slogan: “It’s not just about what you can do with philosophy – it’s about what philosophy will do to you.” As they come to see, the philosophy classroom is where students are made to critically engage with many of their most cherished, but typically not well articulated or examined, beliefs. By the time students arrive at college, they have already formed ideas about whether God exists, about whether they are in control of their lives, about whether there are moral facts, and so on. But these views are not generally formed carefully; students pick them up passively, from people around them, or from believing what they want to be true, or by rebelling against influential figures in their lives, etc.
So when students ask what the "purpose" of philosophy is, I tell them it is to critically examine all of these deeply cherished but less than ideally formed beliefs, to come to better informed conclusions about which make sense and which and in the latter case, to learn how to think the issues through and come to better justified beliefs. In short, the point of studying philosophy is to become adults who believe things for their own carefully considered reasons, instead of living life in mental servitude to the personal and cultural forces around them. That transformation, uncomfortable as it can be, is what philosophy can do to them, and that is among the most valuable things they could hope to get from a college education. As a tutor and as a teacher, it is my goal to help students gain a deep understanding of philosophy and begin to undergo that transformation.
My experience in teaching philosophy includes experience teaching students skills in reading and writing in English. Most of my courses have been writing intensive, and several have been for writing credit. Students in my courses must learn to be able to read, comprehend, analyze, and explain difficult texts, often from primary sources. They must learn to demonstrate that understanding through expository writing. I also teach my students to do effective persuasive or argumentative writing, in which they must advance and defend a thesis.
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