Pedagogy and Teaching

How to Engage Online Students?
By Lynita Newswander on July 10, 2009

While online courses pose a number of difficulties for teachers and students, the reality is that they are becoming increasingly popular among departments. I’ll be teaching online courses for the first time this fall, and I am particularly concerned about how I can best engage a group of students whose interaction will be completely virtual. I will be using the Desire to Learn (D2L) system through the University of South Dakota—a technology similar to Blackboard. I also have the option to use Elluminate, a system which allows for live classroom discussions as well as a forum for pre-recorded lectures (with power-points and other images). I have used discussion boards (through Blackboard) in conjunction with on-campus courses before and found them to be useful. But I am still looking for suggestions for how to best facilitate community, engagement, and free discussion in a strictly online course. Can anyone offer suggestions or lessons learned from personal experience?


Invasion of the Young Pragmatists
By Patrick M. Ford on July 07, 2009

Or, More Reflections on Liberal Learning.

Some recent posts and comments offer useful insights about the nature of liberal learning and the obstacles to genuine liberality in the classroom. Responding to the post "Heresy on the liberal arts?", one commentor is correct to remind us that teachers should challenge all students, and not just the "promising" ones, to take up the difficult but preeminently fulfilling pursuit of truth, and hope that each one will answer the challenge.


Education and Alienation from Mass Culture
By Anonymous on July 06, 2009

I've just read Albert J. Nock's essay "On the Disadvantages of Being Educated.” Great satire. How much truth is there? …


Fitzgerald on Profs as Passing Bores
By Brian Domitrovic on July 04, 2009

Lehrman American Studies Center vets may wish to sup on the words F. Scott put into the pen of Amory Blaine, Princeton '17, and appearing in a student rag called "Nassau Lit." I think he would bid us do better than this professor:

Good Morning, Fool...
Three times a week
You hold us helpless while you speak,
Teasing our thirsty souls with the
Sleek 'yeas' of your philosophy....
Well, here we are, your hundred sheep,
Tune up, play on, pour forth...we sleep.
You'd sniffed through an era's must,
Filling your nostrils up with dust,
And then, arising from your knees,
Published, in one gigantic sneeze.

Reading Thomas Bertonneau's Reflections on Teaching Western Civ
By Anonymous on July 02, 2009

Note: This was supposed to be pre-Summer Institute thoughts on some of the readings, specifically about Bertonneau's complaints about teaching students history and literature.

I have several responses to this. First of all, there are two sides to every story. One wonders how good a teacher Bertonneau is. This is a fair question to pose to anyone who complains about the consistent problems with his students. But beyond that and more generally, I am sympathetic with Bertonneau's complaints.


Encouraging the Philosophical Habit of Mind
By Gabriel Martinez on July 01, 2009

What can we do to encourage the philosophical habit of mind? Short of founding a new university or taking over Administration Hall by storm, what can we do? I would be very interested to hear other people's experiences with reading groups, lecture series, co-taught courses, and so on.


What Can "the Dumbest Generation" Teach Us about Michael Jackson?
By Anonymous on July 01, 2009

Sitting in the Starbucks on Nassau Street, just across from Princeton this week, I overheard a conversation between two political philosophy undergraduates that strikes me as either simply humorous or deeply troubling. I report it here as a way of inviting a conversation on teaching students in today’s liberal arts environment.


Teaching Colonial/Revolutionary American History
By Anonymous on June 30, 2009

Next spring I'll be teaching a course on colonial and revolutionary American history. I've picked up some strategies for teaching the Founding from sessions of the Summer Institute, and I'm particularly interested in utilizing Gordon Lloyd's website on the Constitutional Convention. I'm also fascinated by Jonathan Den Hartog's syllabus and his assigning of an important monograph to each student to review and briefly discuss in class. I'm curious to know how successful this endeavor was. I also wonder if colonialists have had good results from assigning primary sources such as Winthrop's A Model of Christian Charity or excerpts from Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation. As Gary Gregg emphasized, if one of our goals as teachers is to stimulate our students' imagination and inspire them to appreciate and think deeply about the ideals and values of earlier Americans and their institutions, do these primary sources serve us better than fast-moving popular narratives such as Mayflower and 1776? I'd appreciate hearing about previous successes and disappointments from anyone who has taught this subject.

Context vs. Transcendence
By Anonymous on June 29, 2009

A methodological gulf exists among disciplines. Political Science and Philosophy rarely discuss context while to Historians (of which I'm one) context is our shibboleth. Because of my training, I find it difficult to fully engage in discussions with both academics and students on these non-contextual issues. In fact, in these discussions I am reminded of the great quip by John Adams: "Facts are stubborn things." My question/concern is, therefore, how can conservative scholars bridge this gap and introduce into our classrooms both context and, for those of us who toil in the fields of events, transcendent issues? Is there a way? Let me add, too, that I struggle with this myself as I believe in a transcendent moral order but think it is necessary—perhaps to an absolute degree—to know the context of events that shapes the debate on this question/answer.

Liberal Education: The Seminar Method
By Anonymous on June 26, 2009

"All his pretty efforts to create conflicts of thought among his students failed for want of system." — The Education of Henry Adams


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