Adapted from Donald Palmer's Does the Center Hold? (1991)


Tidbits of my Teaching 'Wisdom':


  1. Teaching philosophy does not betray the essence of 'philosophical attitude' by renouncing to be dead serious and deprived of humbling self-irony. The "gay kind of seriousness" runs counter only to the grim and solemn tone in philosophy, not to its inner truth and its life value. On the contrary, by suppressing the humorous and the "funny" part of philosophical education we run the risk of misrepresenting the spirit of philosophical thinking which is inextricably tied to the ability to sneer and laugh at every authority and every established doctrine.
  2. The chances to be successful in the classroom, that is to say to arouse the latent intellectual curiosity of students and then to nourish it with some hints for further independent study, rise dramatically if we appeal to the sense of sight by using images and pictorial representations (charts, diagrams, drawings, cartoons, reproductions from the history of art, films, CD-ROM's). If the language of philosophy cannot help being abstract, teaching philosophical concepts and ideas does not have to be at odds with the lures and appeals of visual experience. After all, vision is "the most despotic of our senses". (Wordsworth)
  3. The classroom setting is never entirely natural (no matter what the official ideology suggests), but it has many advantages over any direct implementation of philosophy at home or on the street. Especially if we manage to reproduce our perceptual experience as a self-reflective image of human condition in all its variety. Therefore the resonance with students hinges much more on our ability to induce the atmosphere of asking questions and challenging accepted patterns than on our skill to instill and transmit knowledge as a well defined "body of information".

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