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Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Grand Teaching Experiment (7)

I haven't posted for a while about the teaching experiment, because it was basically on hiatus. For the last few weeks, we have been doing technical material, and it does seem worth lecturing about that. Now, though, we are back to more philosophical material, so we are back to having discussions.
Up this week were Field's paper "Tarski's Theory of Truth" and Etchemendy's paper "Tarski on Truth and Logical Consequence". Both of them are pretty clear, though the dialectical structure of Etchemendy's paper is complicated (as I argue in my own paper on the topic).
The discussions seemed to go pretty well, perhaps better on Etchemendy than on Field, and that perhaps because I have a deeper understanding myself of that paper. As previously, the students' written responses to the papers were very good. Everyone seemed to have a solid understanding of the basic outlines of the arguments, with some students (unsurprisingly) a little ahead of others. But what I'm really coming to appreciate about this way of doing things is that, as we start class, I already have a pretty good idea what people understand and what they do not, and we can focus our attention either on filling in the gaps or else, even better, digging more deeply. And because everything is based on discussion, we dig in the direction the students find interesting, or where their questions naturally lead.
It's definitely clear, as I mentioned in a previous post, that the sorts of detailed reading notes I've been giving the students recently are important to this kind of approach. I've had more than one student remark on this.

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