Better teaching through provocation
The quest for an effective pedagogy differentiates the teacher from the researcher. Within the humanities and social sciences, we are constantly confronted with the challenge of communicating complex material in a novel and effective manner. Active teaming is bolstered by an approach that emphasizes creative problem solving, and critical thinking. And active learning often begins with a question.
Despite those techniques, philosophical inquiry can sometimes lead to esoteric, pedantic, or even banal approaches to teaching that leave the neophyte intellectually lost or detached from the learning process. As a discipline, philosophy itself is intrinsically provocative. In the spirit of Nietzsche's infamously provocative style, the use of stimulating techniques in teaching introductory college courses can be immensely beneficial.
Goals of Provocation
The goals of provocative teaching are grounded in a conceptual framework of critical thinking as well as in an understanding and appreciation of the many psychological processes that influence mental life. The teacher's strategy should be designed to provoke or pique students to think; that is, to analyze the grounds of their beliefs, which can be directly applied to their personal lives. Stirring questions and statements should challenge (and respectfully critique) the method and rationale by which students arrive at conclusions and reexamine the grounds for their beliefs and attitudes. Guiding Principles
Guiding principles in formulating provocative teaching techniques as follows: 1. Orient the technique toward the entire class, not just one student. 2. Allow an appropriate pause time for class response.
3. Respond to all students' responses.
4. Validate and confirm student attempts to respond or offer an explanation. 5. Use the discussion to launch into a formal presentation of the material or to augment existing didactic strategies. Classroom Examples...
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