Black Elk Speaks, John Locke Listens, and the Students Write: Designing and Teaching a Writing Intensive Introduction to Philosophy and Cultural Diversity

Teaching Philosophy 21 (1):35-59 (1998)

Naomi Scheman
University of Minnesota
Douglas Lewis
University of Minnesota
This paper details the experience of planning, orchestrating, teaching, and participating in a writing-intensive, team-taught, introductory philosophy class designed to expand the diversity of voices included in philosophical study. Accordingly, this article includes the various perspectives of faculty, TAs, and students in the class. Faculty authors discuss the administrative side of the course, including its planning and goals, its texts and structure, its working definition of “philosophy,” its balance of canonical and non-canonical texts, the significant resistance met in getting the course approved, the complex pedagogical difficulties that attend teaching non-canonical texts, the motivation and execution of the course’s writing-intensive dimension, and a summary of student evaluations of the course. The TA authors reflect on the high level of student engagement and interest compared to other introductory philosophy courses, the perception that students found the material highly relevant to their own lives, and the capacity of the material to bring about philosophical insight for the instructors in the class. The student author offers a favorable account of the class and remarks on how the structure of the course aided the accessibility and relevance of the texts.
Keywords Teaching Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0145-5788
DOI teachphil19982112
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