Much of my research looks at the cognitive benefits of diagrams and iconic signs, so naturally I use a lot of visuals in the classroom. However, by choice, I tend to draw those visuals by hand. Computer graphics are great, but empirical studies (and classroom experience) have convinced me that attention levels drop dramatically the moment a lit screen is nearby. I need to make contact with eyes to gauge moment by moment whether each student is on track. Indeed, I believe inquiry is most rewarding when it makes room for surprises. I thus tell my students: “This is the room where, for x hours a week, we mess up and it’s okay,” making sure to stress that the “we” includes the professor too. The terrain of the debates is mapped out in advance, but I have found that the most transformative moments are often those that weren’t planned.
My goal is to get the class involved in a genuine deliberative process. “You feel strongly about an idea or cause?,” I ask my students. “Great. But, many honest people besides yourself likely champion opposite ideas or causes that they also deem worthy. So, a sense of conviction will not amount to much unless we can get clear on the pros and cons of the various reasons. That requires hard work and a commitment to dialogue.” When, in the course of putting in that hard work, it (slowly or suddenly) dawns on students that respect for reason and evidence holds real promise for the resolution of conflict and uncertainty, I feel I have made a lasting impact.
COURSES TAUGHT (as sole instructor)
Upper year courses
Advanced Topics in Metaphysics and Epistemology
Seminar in Pragmatism
Philosophy of Emotion
Early Modern Philosophy
Second year courses
Love and Desire
Philosophy of Sport and Recreation
Philosophy of Law
First year courses
Introduction to Philosophy
Introduction to Formal Logic