published on February 6, 2019
Jonathan A. Buttaci
Aristotle on Learning How to Learn
Geometry as a Model for Philosophical Inquiry
I consider a more generic goal teachers have for students in addition to learning some determinate content: that they learn how to learn anything whatsoever. To explain this process, I draw on two insights from Aristotle’s account of learning: first, that in every case students learn by doing the very things they are learning to do; and second, that it is possible to achieve a general educatedness whereby someone can make intelligent judgments and intellectual progress even in previously unfamiliar subject areas. In both cases, Aristotle’s account of the teacher as thinking-facilitator rather than knowledge-infuser is illuminating. This connects with recent literature on Experiential Learning. Having developed this broadly Aristotelian account of learning how to learn I offer some concrete strategies for putting the theory into practice in the philosophy classroom. These strategies include targeted reading guidance and mystery text assignments, both of which develop incrementally throughout the course.