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Unconventional teaching ideas that work: Feeling it first (Brendan Larvor)

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By Brendan Larvor, Reader in Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire I was teaching philosophy of science to second year undergraduates at the University of Hertfordshire. At first, I taught philosophy of science the usual way, with a lecture followed by a seminar. The approach was to illustrate philosophical points with examples from the history of science in the lecture, and then talk about them in the seminar. What I learned was that the scientific examples didn’t help the students to understand the philosophical points at all. These were mostly humanities students. For them, the scientific examples were at least as hard to understand as the philosophy. Above all, the whole topic was too abstract. Through their bafflement, I came to understand a principle that has guided me ever since: lectures make no sense unless the hearer has already had an experience that they can use to interpret the lecture content. When writing a lecture, one has to ask at every stage: what in my. . .

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News source: The Philosophers' Cocoon

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