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06/03/2020

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Illusion of Terra

I have taught a similar course a few years ago, and did not find it to be much different than teaching older students. Generally, my experience was similar to what Sam described. Most students were quite motivated.
What was a bit unexpected from at least one student were basic questions about philosophy, such as what the whole point of philosophy is. Thus, you might be confronted with some of those basic questions independent of the topic of the course. In my experience, in e.g. an introduction to epistemology class at university, students would generally not ask such basic questions explicitly.

Sam Duncan

One more note on this, but this time from my experience taking one of these classes: In the long term it does students a disservice if the standards in these classes aren't pretty much the same as a college class. One of the things that's helpful with such classes is that they give students an idea of what a college class is like but without the full on challenge of taking 4-6 college classes at once. This can be a good thing even if it means students struggle a bit when they take the class. The first lab report I turned in in the summer college biology class I took as a high schooler got an F, and this was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I was a really lazy student in high school and prone to all sorts of bad habits (procrastination being the worst). Getting that F on a report that would have probably gotten me a mid-grade B on a similar high school assignment was a real awakening about what would be expected of me in college. In the end I did well in that class but I had to work like crazy. Because of that class and a few others I came into college with the expectation that that's what I'd have to do to succeed. If I hadn't I don't think my first year or so of college would have went nearly as well as they did.

Malcolm

I've taught summer logic to students with JHU's Center for Talented Youth. These students were just shy of high school, so not everything I say will be relevant, but I think much will.

First, I found it important to break up the long class sessions (this was a summer camp) with activities. Younger students often have shorter attention spans.

Second, I made sure to have backup activities for those students who finished our problem sets early. The students may be "talented" but there are varying skill levels within that group. (This is actually a useful practice in university contexts, too.)

Third, I found ways of bringing creativity and relevance into the classroom by having them make posters, do skits, and analyze contemporary bits of natural language from websites and memes using their logical tools. And they weren't "too cool" for it, either.

If you're thinking this sounds like the class was "dumbed down," I'll note that they went through almost the entirety of Hurley's introduction to logic text, and performed better than the university students I taught logic to subsequently.

They were excellent thinkers, but they are still growing emotionally and socially. That brings me to the last point:

Fourth, I found that I had to engage in classroom management differently than in college. Most college students don't talk back or throw paper wads or pick fights with their peers. But younger students do. So keeping them active and engaged is crucial.

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