Teaching about Arguments & Arguments about Teaching
Who’s Afraid of Epistemology? Socratically Seeking Knowledge for Learning, Teaching, and Long-term Flourishing
As I start my series on epistemology (or theory of knowing) for better learning and teaching, I want to emphasize an approach to rational knowing in relation to a very important ancient Greek thinker: Socrates. He believed that knowledge and virtue are inseparable, and therefore the search for knowledge is a search for virtue and vice versa. Socratically, teachers and students should strive to be virtuous in their pursuits of knowledge. What does virtue mean? How does one acquire virtue (and knowledge)? Why, those are just the sort of questions Socrates wants us to thoughtfully explore throughout our lives for long-term flourishing.
Who’s Afraid of Epistemology? Exploring Ways of Knowing for Better Learning, Teaching, and Long-term Flourishing
In this post, I discuss the neglected but important branch of philosophy known as epistemology or theory of knowledge. I also introduce my general plan for a series of postings about epistemology for better thinking in service to our learning, teaching, and ongoing pursuits of long-term flourishing.
An ancient Roman philosopher and a twentieth century African American civil rights leader can have more in common than we realize. It is both the similarities and differences that are important for us to consider in these difficult times. Last week, I briefly explored the adaptable role that really old books could have in tackling modern problems, especially in terms of our blind spots and shortcomings. In our fractured republic, we also need to situate the study of books and ideas in the context of what is often referred to as the liberal arts. The liberal arts seem more important than ever for personal and mutual public flourishing.
Ancient-Modern Arguments That Passion Is Overrated in the Pursuit of Long-term Flourishing (&Read Some Older Books!)
Concerning the popular focus on finding one’s passion, I appreciate the discernment recently expressed in Cal Newport’s post on “Ancient Complications to Modern Career Advice.” He points us toward thinking more wisely about responsible living and long-term flourishing.
“Philosophy is everybody’s business.” –Mortimer J. Adler Educator and philosopher Mortimer Adler made several important points about philosophy in the twentieth century that still apply to our time. Indeed, philosophy is everybody’s business and so are ideas. Among the 103 Ideas that Adler catalogued and explored with others, he asserted that there are six greatContinue reading “Seeking to Know Seven Great Ideas for Learning and Long-term Flourishing in Conflicted Times”
The Lindy Effect and Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits: Help for Educators to Grow Better Individually and Collaboratively (For the School Year and for the Summer!)
Collaboration: Done well, with a durable knowledge-rich and a knowledge-building focus, collaboration can empower educators. Done poorly, collaboration becomes a purgatorial experience. I believe that the Lindy Effect’s notion of longer-lasting knowledge and Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People can help educators envision much better individual and collaborative approaches to effective education.
Emergency Remote Teaching has been challenging for these last two months, but there are some important takeaways for teaching during crisis and non-crisis times:
1. Introverts need community too.
2. Extroverts need introverted skills.
3. Existing online tech tools can be helpful if used with discernment.
4. Distance planning is good for non-emergency course planning too.
5. We’re way over-scheduled during our “normal” non-emergency times.
HyFlex Course Planning Strategies for High School Teaching and Learning: Consolidating the Right Questions for Crisis and Non-Crisis Times
Although it’s an extremely demanding approach to course planning, HyFlex course design invites important questions about effectively teaching students with flexible alternatives to interaction, which could work well in four important scenarios: face-to-face learning, face-to-face intermittently mixed with distance learning, complete distance learning, and sudden shifts from face-to-face to complete distance learning. HyFlex isn’t a silver-bullet solution, but it does concentrate educators on essential questions about instructional planning for best and worst-case scenarios.
For this posting, I’ll briefly share my approach to a final activity for my senior English courses: A senior graduation speech from every member of my class. (This year, the activity is getting some streamlining due to our social distancing, but it’s still a good time to reflect on the full process of working with my students for future use during normal times.)
The celebration of Star Wars Day this week was well-timed as I’m having my seniors start work on a research project that explores popular culture through the lens of at least one serious academic discipline that they would not typically study in high school. Their review of knowledge related to the research process includes elements of interleaving. The project is a good way to wrap up our time together (at a distance) this year.
It’s Star Wars Day. May the Fourth be with you! Hopefully, we’ll all have a healthier republic in the months to come.
About this time each year in my high school English courses, I get encouraged listening to my students engage in debate and discussion activities. Those lively discussions are one of the things I’ve missed most due to the stay-at-home restrictions. That got me thinking about resources that I’ve found most helpful for teaching students about good, bad, and ugly approaches to arguable topics.
The important question that most of the social emotional discussions have surfaced is, “How do we appropriately support and coach struggling students with the social emotional dimensions of learning and growing?” This is a more complex question than it might initially seem.
For educators, Yuval Levin’s The Fractured Republic can help us think better about unhelpful extremes and unhelpful mixes of over-centralization and hyper-individualism.
Addendum #6: Advanced Placement English Thinking Is Highly Relevant to Emergency Teaching, Real Life, and the Pursuit of Long-term Flourishing
“What are the most important values to consider for guiding one through crisis times and toward long-term flourishing?” I brainstormed that synthesis prompt this week as I was considering what we’re not testing in the Advanced Placement English Language and Composition exam this year due to the COVID-19 crisis. As a teacher, I’m working onContinue reading “Addendum #6: Advanced Placement English Thinking Is Highly Relevant to Emergency Teaching, Real Life, and the Pursuit of Long-term Flourishing”
New and veteran teachers need workable methods for effective productivity during crisis and non-crisis times.
Addendum #5: A Way to Use College Board AP Review Videos + Interactive Lecture Strategy = A Step Toward Effective Curriculum and Instruction Coherency
As I’m talking with colleagues, several of us are grateful for the Advanced Placement Online Classes and Review Sessions. These resources are helpful for our emergency remote teaching and learning conditions, but they’re also important as a reminder and a model of what coherent and effective curriculum and instruction can be. As an experienced teacherContinue reading “Addendum #5: A Way to Use College Board AP Review Videos + Interactive Lecture Strategy = A Step Toward Effective Curriculum and Instruction Coherency”
How J.R.R. Tolkien’s notion of eucatastrophe and his collaboration with the Inklings can offer encouragement and hope in our times of crisis.
Addendum #4: Literature + Reader-Response Questions + Google Classroom Can Restore Some Sense of Relationship
As my seniors finish their reading and response work with Octavia Butler’s Kindred this week, I’ve especially appreciated the spot for private comments on student postings in Google Classroom. With the platform and with student postings, I can get the gist of how students are reading and thinking about these last parts of the novel,Continue reading “Addendum #4: Literature + Reader-Response Questions + Google Classroom Can Restore Some Sense of Relationship”
Addendum #3: Arguing for Clarity and Using MacGuyver Strategies: “Emergency Remote Learning” Conditions During COVID-19
Project-Based Learning advocate A.J. Julian shares good and timely counsel as he revises what he and other educators have been calling “distance learning” or “online learning” in “This Is Not Distance or Online Learning.” He rightfully clarifies that what we’re doing is actually “emergency remote learning.” The distinction is helpful and practical for guiding teachers,Continue reading “Addendum #3: Arguing for Clarity and Using MacGuyver Strategies: “Emergency Remote Learning” Conditions During COVID-19”
How CBT strategies can make Seligman’s ABCs even more effective for overcoming procrastination and promoting resilience.
(Also, Deconstructing Senioritis)
These are the times that try our sense of humor. Here are four of my favorite short bits of humor that relate to argument, literature, or communication.
Addendum: Five good links for helping you think through distance learning and teaching during the social distancing caused by COVID-19.
How practicing “D” for Distancing and (gentle) Disputation can help us grow more resilient. (Also, some quick thoughts about focused and effective approaches to distance learning.)
How Martin Seligman’s ABCs of growing through adversity might help students and educators.
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