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Teaching Philosophy

Volume 25, Issue 2, June 2002

Penny A. Weiss
Pages 123-130

Making History of Ideas Classes Relevant
A Writing Strategy

Many of the concrete examples found in older philosophical texts that aim at showing how a philosophical idea is relevant tend, for many students, to be mysterious. While instructors can substitute examples from their own lives to show an idea’s relevance, such examples can fail to be effective since college students are not a homogenous group and faculty often do not know their students well. This paper describes a writing assignment where students are asked to choose an event from their lives and write, in the first person, from the perspective of the theorist they are analyzing. Such an assignment not only challenges students to use their own lives to explain a philosophical idea but also allows charges them to use philosophical ideas to examine their own lives.

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