Teaching is a little like fishing, with one exception: we often feel that we are teaching without a hook, trying every strategy we can to get kids excited, asking questions and taking learning seriously. Despite our noble efforts, we fall short many times. It’s usually not that the lesson was poorly conceived as a whole; it’s that we never got started in the right direction and so things just sort of… fizzled out.
So what is the best way to set that hook?
Bring in a little philosophy.
Our Teach Different Spotlight this month is on Dr. Andrew Pessin, professor of philosophy at Connecticut College and author of numerous books including the 60-Second Philosopher, which I’ve been using for many years now as a textbook in my philosophy class and a supplemental resource in all of my other classes. This gem of a book (which can literally fit in your pocket) provokes, cajoles and entices students into considering deep, philosophical ideas in 60 bite-sized chapters. Some of the chapters carry questions that have vexed humans for a long, long time:
What is the right thing to do? How do I know it?
Who am I?
Is happiness the purpose of human life?
These questions are the province of philosophy but you can find a home for them in any of your classes. Dr. Pessin has written that perfect book which can rattle the souls of young people and stretch across all subject areas in a way that makes learning fun and relevant at the same time. Now that’s teaching different with essential questions.