Volume 2, 2016
Rebecca G. Scott
Learning to Love Wisdom
Teaching Plato's Symposium to Introductory Students
In this essay, I examine how Plato’s Symposium can be helpful for teachers who are interested in encouraging introductory students to develop a sense of wonder in their early encounters with philosophical texts. Plato’s work is helpful, I argue, in two ways. First, as teachers of philosophy, the Symposium contains important pedagogical lessons for us about the roles of creativity and affectivity in philosophical pedagogy. Second, the dialogue lends itself well to the pedagogical methods that Plato’s work recommends. That is, the Symposium invites students to engage with it in ways that involve them as affective and creative learners. I begin by providing the theoretical basis for my pedagogical approach, which is inspired by phenomenology. Next, I offer my interpretation of the Symposium, indicating what we can learn from the text about how to teach philosophy. And finally, I describe three classroom activities based on Plato’s text that are aimed at accomplishing the pedagogical ends I have outlined.