This is probably part of the motivation behind many philosophy departments’ attempts, such as this one, to emphasize the value of philosophy.
In an attempt to show students the value of philosophy, I have adopted a skills-based approach to my teaching. That is, I try to teach students how to think, not what to think. I not only tell but also show them why thinking critically and philosophically is one of the most important things they will ever learn in college. For an example of the kind of activities I do with my students in class, see this piece from the Fall 2011 issue of the APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy.
To gauge my success, I ask my students to fill out evaluation surveys throughout the semester and, at the end of the semester, I ask them the following question: Are you taking something of lasting value from this class? If so, what? If not, why not?
I have promised my students complete confidentiality, which is why I will not mention specific responses here. But the responses are overwhelmingly positive. Students frequently mention how their critical thinking skills have improved and that such skills are valuable and applicable in many domains other than philosophy.
All of this brings me to the questions I would like to ask you, my fellow pupae. First, do you take a similar approach to your teaching? If so, why? If not, why not?
Second, in these hard times, in which philosophy departments are threatened with cuts, why is it that philosophers (the APA, perhaps) are not actively making the case for philosophy as the major discipline that trains students to think? Or is it that they are making this case but nobody wants to listen?