Teaching

Teaching philosophy is one of the great privileges and passions of my life. My teaching interests are broad. While I enjoy teaching in my areas of research specialization, I often find it stimulating to teach material I know less well, and this has often generated some of my most memorable classroom experiences.

My teaching style is based in the tradition of liberal arts education. I employ student-centered, active learning approaches. These strategies are well suited to communicate two central ideas in my understanding of philosophy: (1) Philosophy is not just the solemn recitation of dusty tomes. It is above all something we do. (2) The insights we come to when we do philosophy shape the possibilities we see for ourselves and the people we will become.

My experience as a teacher and practitioner of yoga and meditation also inform my approach to teaching philosophy. I am increasingly incorporating ideas from Contemplative Pedagogy into my teaching. Contemplative Pedagogy integrates contemplative practices (such as deep listening, journaling, and mindfulness) into higher education. The goal is not only to improve student learning as defined by conventional learning objectives, but to help students develop a deeper understanding of who they are, who they want to become, and what the purpose of their education is.

I am committed to inclusivity in the classroom in both the style and content of my teaching. This is a deeply personal calling for me, as I myself was a nontraditional student and did not flourish in formal education as a youth. The active learning pedagogy I practice has been shown to disproportionately benefit disadvantaged students. I make a point of including figures and narratives in my courses that have been underrepresented in the classical philosophical canon. In an upcoming course on Existentialism, I am including a text I have translated from the Vietnamese philosopher Tran Duc Thao. Thao was the first to use existential phenomenology to elucidate and critique colonialism.

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Đường Trần Đức Thảo (Tran Duc Thao Street) in Da Nang, Vietnam