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« Teaching Statements: what are search committees looking for? | Main | Unconventional teaching ideas that work: Using monastic meditative reflection in the classroom (Jake Wright) »



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I'm inclined to think that the question that really matters isn't "how do you teach intro?" but "why do we teach intro at all?" How I answer the latter pretty much determines how I answer the former.

Given that the majority of students in an intro class only encounter academic philosophy once in their lives and it's during that class, what should we hope that they take away from it? I suppose that you could answer this question in ways that would alarm the search committee though (like if you didn't care about producing philosophy majors).

To add to Al's point: it seems like there's a difference between the practical question of "how do you actually teach?" in terms of specific values or methods in the classroom, and the more abstract question of what values are relevant in course design for intro specifically. I'm not sure which thing search committees care about more, though.

Mike Titelbaum

While admittedly coming from an R1 search perspective (so the answer may be different for other types of schools), the "How would you teach X?" question is always for me first and foremost about finding out what kind of teacher you are. How you answer reveals how you think about structuring a course, what you think is the best approach to getting students engaged, and what your in-class strategies are for presenting material. Whatever you say about the syllabus is just (for me at least) an indicator of those broader points, and maybe also whether you're pitching your teaching to students like the ones we have at our school.

Sometimes we also ask the intro question because we've got a candidate without much teaching experience, or experience only at higher levels, so we want to check that you are capable of and thoughtful about teaching to that level. However impressive you are in other ways, it's important that we can trust you with our first-years!

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