Philosophy Education Research

Inclusive Philosophy Classrooms

When considering how to make philosophy more inclusive, many think of the need to broaden the canon of philosophy and of adding diversity to reading lists that often predominantly feature Anglo, hetero, able-bodied, white males. The readings for a course not only shape the academic content of the course and provide a narrative, but also suggest to students which perspectives are regarded as valid in the discussion. To this end, the readings are important to consider when designing a course. However, inclusive pedagogy is more than diversity in readings. It involves reflecting on the learning environment that students in your course will experience and participate in. As such, when designing a course and assessment time should be spent reflecting on the classroom experience, and how each choice impacts and shapes the learning environment. My research focuses on arguments for inclusive classrooms, as well as designing strategies for inclusive classrooms in philosophy that go beyond the reading list and how to train new instructors in inclusive classroom strategies.

While working for Western’s Teaching Support Centre in graduate school, I developed a research interest in international student experiences, and the cultural norms and expectations of North American classrooms. I am in the process of preparing a paper in which I apply the literature from SToL on cultural inclusivity to the context and norms of the philosophy classroom.

Critical Thinking and Public Understanding of Science

In light of recent scientific controversies, such as the debates surroundings climate change, GMOs, vaccines, and fracking, the scientific community has called for an increased public understanding of the relevant scientific issues. In this paper, I utilize a distinction from the education literature between Teacher-Centered versus Learner-Centered styles of teaching in order to argue for a change in framing of the public scientific literacy issue. Then, I examine what philosophy can offer to the discussion, arguing that in the science education curriculum, there is a need to incorporate: 1) a larger emphasis on critical thinking skills found in philosophy classrooms, and 2) components of history and philosophy of science. I suggest that when one understands and can think critically about what scientists do, how they come to conclusions, and how they create and support their arguments, it allows the individual citizen to have a sense of self-ownership of science and scientific practice, particularly to those who may consider themselves to be “non-scientists”.

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Teaching Philosophy Graduate Students about Effective Teaching

A key element to being competitive on the philosophy job market is teaching experience. As a result, many philosophy graduate students are concerned with obtaining the opportunity to teach their own courses. However, acquiring training in how to effectively teach, not just teaching experience itself, is (we argue) equally as valuable. This paper (co-authored with Jessey Wright) details a graduate level course discussing how to teach philosophy graduate students about about teaching.

Abstract: The problem of inadequate professional training for graduate students in teaching and pedagogy has recently come into sharp relief. Providing teacher training for philosophy graduate students through for-credit courses has been recommended as a solution to this problem. This paper provides an overview of the problem and identifies a selection of aims such a course should have. By providing a detailed outline of the course, this paper is also a resource for faculty tasked with teaching such a course. Finally, we justify the pedagogical decisions made in the design of this course to prepare facilitators to more effectively teach the course, to allow facilitators to make informed and intentional decisions when adapting the course to their program, and as a demonstration of what we take to be some of the best practices in teaching in pedagogy. That is, the design of this course is informed by the very material covered in the course.

 

  K-12 Philosophy & Science Outreach

Part of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy’s vision is to promote public engagement and philosophical reflection on scientific issues. During my time as a graduate student, I established an outreach program that introduces critical thinking skills, and teaches students how to apply them in the context of science. Through these activities, we aim to bring a better, broader sense of ownership of science, particularly to those who consider themselves to be “non-scientists”. By increasing exposure to philosophy in their K-12 education, we also introduce students to the philosophical toolkit sooner. The earlier we encourage students to think critically about science in their day-to-day lives, and about their relationship with science, the more likely they are to grow up to be more scientifically literate citizens.

I am in the transition process of writing up my experience developing K-12 program and activities in this context, as well as some of the activities designed.