Dean of Teaching and Learning Seminar Series 2021-22

Thursday, October 14, 2021 - 15:00

After defending Socrates and Socratic dialectic (as seen in Plato’s Euthyphro) as ultimate models of the teacher and the teaching method, respectively, I explore the why, when, and how. The ‘why’ examines the relationship between the two dominant modes of teaching—lecture and discussion—and argues that, although both have merits, lecture alone will fail to fulfil all of our pedagogic goals, one of which is teaching students the art of interpretation. This is the ‘when’, and here I examine the way that discussion upon a text, properly guided, can not only inspire, discipline, and profit student responses from mere opinion to reasoned opinion, but also produce understanding for student and teacher alike, understanding not had by any one participant beforehand, even the teacher. The ‘how’ offers a series of discursive moves arranged into steps, imperfectly illustrated with a sample from one of my own literature classes as captured on Zoom. The conclusion suggests that such class discussions are one means to liberal education since it liberates students from professorial interpretation toward their own, a liberation, though, guided by the professor. Paradoxically, the professor does not profess, but shows others how to profess.

To view the recording of this seminar please view the following link: 

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