Tuesday, August 18, 2015

It’s Harder Now to Change Students’ Lives, but No Less Important

The Chronicle of Higher Education 
August 14th, 2015

When I was an undergraduate at Antioch College in the early ’80s, I took a course in philosophical anthropology. I’m still not entirely sure what "philosophical anthropology" means, but it was the best course I ever had. It did more to prepare me for graduate school and my career than any other course, and it was edge-of-your-seat, lean-across-the-table interesting. The problem is that the professor, Victor Ayoub, has retired, and committees in the modern world rarely approve courses like his.
The syllabus was about half a page in length. There were no course objectives, and the professor didn’t list his instructional activities or his grading procedures. What filled the half-page was a list of five or six books we would read during the semester and a sentence or two informing students that they would be expected to complete a research paper — the first part of which was due near the middle of the semester, with the rest being due at the end.

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