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Marcus Arvan

Moti: good questions. The prevailing thought by the SLAC committee members who have posted over at the Leiter thread seems to be that writing samples are good evidence of a person's ability to express themselves clearly and persuasively (and so, teach clearly and persuasively). For what it worth, I don't know why anyone would think that. I've met plenty of counterexamples on all sides: people who can't write worth a damn but speak well in front of an audience, and people who speak well but can't write worth a damn. Further, a person who *can* speak well in front of others can, nevertheless, be quite a rotten teacher, all things considered. ;)


We were not required to teach in my graduate program, but there were plenty of opportunities at our fingertips. I took those opportunities and got a good amount of teaching experience in my program, but I wouldn't really say that I got "training" in teaching. Actually, I'm not even sure I would say that I got "training" in research and scholarship. Most of the training that goes on in graduate school, in my experience anyway, is self-training.

Anon SLAC #2 is obviously right that most jobs are teaching jobs. I think the reason there is still great emphasis on writing samples and research portfolios for these jobs is that the faculty there came out of research departments. Let's face it - the R1 values are the ones that direct and inform the discipline as a whole, even though they represent a small minority of the profession, for better or for worse. Very few in our profession (I am surmising, at any rate) consider themselves teachers first, philosophers second. In most cases it is the other way around. For such individuals, it can be hard to accept for life a 4/4 or 5/5 job. One way around it is to remind yourself that you are a philosopher first and foremost, and to hire people who are philosophers first and foremost. Hence, the emphasis on writing samples even for "teaching" jobs.


At one institution I was given the opportunity to take on teaching assistantship roles. There was also an orientation provided by the university as a whole about teaching and learning, which was useful. But this is the extent of 'training' that has been received thus far. I also managed to find an adjunct job during the time between MA & PhD. Again, with this, I was simply thrown in and had to learn as I went.

My current institution allows you to teach towards the later end of the PhD. There are also teaching seminars offered, which are recommended. They have already stressed the importance of having experience. This is further highlighted by the fact that a publication in a peer-reviewed journal, and at least one international conference presentation, are required to receive the PhD. I realise this is unusual.

Anecdotally, I have friends in other programs who are given opportunities to teach during their PhD. While this is the case, there is no 'training' per se--or at least very little.

I would say that the general focus is towards research and scholarship with opportunities for some to at least gain some experience, not to mention the teaching evaluations which are so important when applying for jobs.

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