I consider it my first responsibility as a philosophy
teacher to bring students to an awareness of why and how philosophy is
important to them. Fundamentally, I want my
students to find philosophy inspirational.
I want my students to see the need to reflect upon their lives and their
world, to feel how much richer life is, especially the college years, if
they are not on automatic pilot but are, rather, tackling the difficult
questions about what might make their lives profoundly meaningful, about how
society should be structured, about what they could/should do to build a better
world and more meaningful lives for themselves and others. All genuine questions, as the original gadfly
noted, are irritating. So the
pedagogical trick is to make the students comfortable enough to ask the
disturbing questions that might radically disrupt their lives. I really want them to be on fire for these
questions. If they aren’t, then I feel I
have not done my job. However, when I
succeed in firing this passion in them, then the great philosophical questions
about how we might determine the good, about justice and truth, being and
knowledge, become real questions that they own for themselves, not academic
exercises that they must undertake for a grade.
I want them to recognize that one of their primary responsibilities in
life is to think their own thoughts, and I want them to appreciate both how
hard this is, and that it is their further responsibility to contribute their
well-worked out, well-researched thoughts to the rest of humanity.