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email I sent to class members, re: amendment to class requirements

In Class matters on February 7, 2010 by ariew

Dear PHIL SCIers,
My course is geared towards a rigorous engagement of central issues in evolutionary theory specifically, and philosophy of science in general.  I am not requiring a term paper.What does “engagement” mean?  And, how do I assess your level of engagement?  Answer: by requiring weekly written and oral expression.  That is, requiring you to write and speak about the issues we cover in class.
There are two components of this assessment:
A. weekly summaries of the reading.  I’m looking at these every week, commenting on some of your work at random.
B. this is new: weekly participation.  I want to know each week that you are engaging in the topic.  I require you to–every week–either speak in class and/or contribute to the blog.  (Some of you, and you know who you are, have been altogether silent.)
Assessment is based on effort (mistakes are allowed and even encouraged) and satisfactory progress will be determined on a case-by-case basis.  There are two ways to determine how well you are doing at any given time, to ask me (over email), or to take an informal test: ask yourself “have I demonstrated to Andre that I have engaged in the material for the week?”.  If the answer is “no”, then, expect a corresponding grade.
It is important to distinguish “engagement” from “mastering”.  To engage in the material means to actively grapple with it.  For me, a blabbermouth, I grapple with material by talking it through.  I make lots of mistakes.  But, I learn from those.  Others are more contemplative: they write and speak less but with even with less they demonstrate an equal level of engagement with the material.
If you have any questions about this clarification/amendment please feel free to email me.
One last piece of encouragement.  Philosophy of biology is, in its modern form, a brand new field.  We are looking at issues of which relatively few philosophers have thought about (which might account for why we are reading multiple work by few authors, Sober, is a big example).  So, if you feel like you are really struggling, you are not alone.  Not alone in the class. not alone in the philosophical world.
Cheers,
André
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4 Responses to “email I sent to class members, re: amendment to class requirements”

  1. Though I have found I am on most days checking the blog multiple times, I do appreciate the email notice for such a major policy issue.

    Todd

  2. This is a little bit offtopic, but I’m not sure where else to put this. Is anybody else having troubles uploading to the public drive? I’ve tried several times to upload this week’s assignment. It says that it’s uploaded successfully, but the file doesn’t show up in the folder.

  3. Yeah Dan, I have. I found that it often fails when I’m on wireless, but works fine if I’m on an ethernet connection.

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