Monday, November 23, 2009

Teaching Philosophy

I don't think a student ever asked me about my teaching philosophy until today.  What am I trying to do?  It depends on the course, as my aims for grad classes are different.  But this question was about my Intro to IR class.  So the answer was and is, to sound immodest, create better citizens:
  • It is unlikely that the world will be the same in x number of years, so teaching facts (which I have never really been that precise about) seems like a waste of time.
  • I want the students to be exposed to a variety of ideas about how to think about international relations, so that they can figure stuff out, even if an event or process does not fit their preferred way of thinking.  
  • The idea is that if they understand what causes countries to behave as they do, then they can figure out whether proposed remedies, responses, and/or alternatives make sense.  Then, they can vote, donate, protest or whatever. 
  • The folks supporting Palin and Beck have demonstrated the dangers of an ill-informed, uncritical citizenry.
  • So, my students usually leave the class at the end of the semester confused.  They have multiple theories presented, but no answers provided. 


Steve Greene said...

I've got the same goal for my PS 201 class. We went for famiy photos the other day and the photographer was somebody who took the class 5 years ago. I was curious and she didn't remember a thing from the class but my personal anecdotes.

Steve Saideman said...

Yep, my students tend to remember some of my stunts, rather than the lessons that those stunts were supposed to convey. Prime example--biting into an unpeeled orange.