American Association of Philosophy Teachers Studies in Pedagogy


published on May 2, 2023

Alida LibermanOrcid-ID

In Defense of Doing Philosophy “Badly” or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Imperfection

I argue that it can sometimes be good to do philosophy badly and that this has important implications for our classroom practices. It is better to engage in philosophy in a mediocre way than to not engage with it at all, and this should influence what learning goals we adopt and how we assess students. Furthermore, being open to doing and teaching philosophy imperfectly is necessary for fighting against rampant prestige bias and perfectionism in our discipline and our classrooms; if we are to expand the canon and diversify our curricula, we must be willing to risk doing mediocre work ourselves and willing to support our students in doing the same. I conclude that we should sometimes be guided in our teaching by an alternative standard of philosophical excellence that is focused not on the quality of the work produced, but on the joy, creativity, and collaboration involved in the process.