Teaching Philosophy

Volume 27, Issue 3, September 2004

Brook J. Sadler
Pages 251-267

How Important Is Student Participation in Teaching Philosophy?

Student participation is essential to philosophy since dialogue is at the center of philosophical activity: it provides students an opportunity to articulate their philosophical ideas, it helps them connect philosophy to their practical experience, it serves as an opportunity for instructors to take an interest in their students’ views, and it promotes intellectual virtues like courage and honesty. However, lectures can serve many of the same functions, albeit in different ways, e.g. a lecturer can engage other historical philosophers so as to illustrate various dialogues in the history of philosophy. This paper argues that both student participation via dialogue and traditional lecturing play important roles in university education and attempts to offer guidance on how to strike a balance between lecture-driven and student-driven instruction.