PHIL-1710 Philosophie du langage TA
PHIL-1710 Philosophie du langage TA
Painting for the Theatre
The core of my teaching philosophy is that I might learn as much from my students as they might from me.
Until quite recently, I was so shy that the idea of doing a presentation or even simply saying my name in class was overwhelming. At one point in my undergraduate career, rather than discuss my problem with my professors I simply stopped attending and failed classes. What this did to my already tottering confidence was palpable and it cemented in me a real need to build my students’ confidence. My courses begin with a discussion of shyness. I talk about various techniques I’ve found useful, and I make it clear that I accept my student’s limits. I try “to know [their] names” and I measure participation by whether they appear engaged rather than contribute. I value “class discussion and [want my students to feel] as though [they have] benefited from the knowledge of [their] peers.”
The philosopher Charles Taylor wrote that “misrecognition can be a form of oppression, imprisoning someone in a false distorted reduced mode of being. Beyond simple lack of respect, it can inflict a grievous wound, saddling people with crippling self-hatred. Due recognition is not just a courtesy, but a vital human need.” Is there anything more important for an educator than helping a student gain the confidence to think for themselves? Than helping the student develop an assertive, rigorous, and discerning voice, and means of critical thinking? Or than evaluating dogma, challenging illegitimate forms of authority? These are the primary aims of educators, regardless of topic or field.
The bulk of my teaching has been in the visual arts (The National Theatre School of Canada, Concordia University, private teaching) although I have assisted teaching philosophy of language classes (Université de Montréal) and was the sole instructor in an Introduction to Ethics class at McGill (summer 2022). What is strikingly different about visual arts courses, is how immediately diverse viewpoints are expressed. Typically, presenting assignments and receiving critiques occur simultaneously, with student and teacher able to discuss differences as they develop from sketch to finished work. I find this sketching-out idea freeing for students.
I enjoy teaching and I am aware that I have a creative teaching style because of my comfort with imagery. Often concepts can be visualized with graphs, or sketches, and this visual approach can be very helpful. Most people haven't taken art since elementary school and the usefulness and immediacy of visual tools are long ago memories. I have found the visual to be an excellent tool for teaching abstract concepts. As one student states in the evaluation: “this class worked well for me because I’m the kind of student that likes visual aids, in–class discussions, and short readings.”
For introductory courses, I also find it best to lecture for short periods. I like to analyse short
segments of text and enjoy having students select words, phrases, and paragraphs for class
discussion. Introductory classes are about learning how to outline and write clear and effective
For intermediate students, I would work in a similar way as it takes time to learn to write
clearly. The main difference between the introductory and intermediate level is the assumption
that many of the initial concepts are part of a student’s conceptual toolbox. To some extent, I have found that the more philosophy one does, the more it becomes important to focus on less. We need the overview to know what details to pursue.