Teaching Philosophy


published on December 4, 2020

Mark Walker

The Skills-First vs. Content-First Philosophy Class

This paper offers a contrast between “content-first” course design, and “skills-first” course design. The traditional lecture format is a paradigmatic example of the former, by the later I mean courses that emphasize the sustained practice of skills integral to the discipline. Two arguments are offered for adopting, other things being equal, the skills-first design. One is the “content-plus” argument that the skills-first course design does a better job of promoting content acquisition than a content-first class. The second argument, the “skills-plus” argument, claims that a skills-first course design has the added value of better promoting philosophical skills as compared with a content-first course.