Saturday, January 24, 2009

First in-class lecture on postmodernism...

I'm TA'ing for a class this quarter, as I mentioned... and yesterday I gave my first in-class lecture... on the development of modern and postmodern philosophy! Needless to say, I spent several hours trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to say, compiling notes from previous classes I had taken (Jeff let me organize this one!) and adding my own thoughts. I really wasn't sure what to expect, but it went well, and everyone seemed to "get" what I was saying, so I felt good about that.

Essentially, I gave a brief overview of Platonic and Aristotelian thought, then jumped to Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Derrida. I am not an expert on any of these philosophers, but Hegel and Heidegger were especially difficult to explain, at least for me. Hegel, especially, was really brief -- all I did was describe some basic points and try to explain the purpose of his "dialectic" (although that still took more time than any other section!). Derrida is just as confusing to read as Hegel (IMO), but it seems as though his basic ideas can be distilled to pretty basic statements. Luckily, Jeff was there to chime in when I really got stumped by questions. :-)

But, praise God, I survived! Actually, I really enjoyed it and I'm thankful to Jeff Keuss for giving me the opportunity. I get to lecture again in a couple weeks on the "hermeneutics of suspicion." A couple things I took away from the experience: Come up with examples beforehand and write them down! Finding simple ways to relate concepts to others isn't easy, and having them available in my notes would be very wise. Also, I'm glad I decided to use a handout/outline, but powerpoint would have been even better. Just lecturing with no additional visual materials doesn't seem to work well, at least from my experience, and the comments from classmates/students. Third - and this will take time - I have to learn to get comfortable responding to questions. I still struggle sometimes to formulate my thoughts since I have no idea what questions to expect.

Anyway, I like lecturing! That's basically the distilled version of this post. :-)

4 comments:

WTM said...

Congratz on popping your academic cherry, as it were!

On the powerpoint question: I couldn't disagree more. When I lecture (not that I do it often, but I have done it), I want the students thinking about what I'm saying, in the speaking / hearing moment. My solution is to provide my manuscript / notes to them afterwards so they don't have to worry about missing a small point or taking their own extensive notes, but are free to really engage and think along with me.

For whatever its worth...

Geoff said...

geez...

Hmm, I suppose I see your point, I think I would just worry that they might get bored if it's just me talking! :-) But that's my insecurity, not a rebuttal. I will certainly have to try different approaches as I am given more opportunities.

BenMc said...

Powerpoint can be used badly ... but it can be used well too. Sometimes an image can provide just that simple metaphor you're looking for.

I think the biggest problem with Powerpoint is the unconscious need to "get through all the slides" when sometimes it's better to chase rabbit trails. But in biochemistry we have a set "canon" we've gotta get through so I think it's the best for my subject.

Whichever lecture system you choose, you'll figure out what works and what doesn't pretty quick if you keep your ears open (and deliberately engage the students in some way).

By the way, the distilled version of your post ... that's all you need!

Roy said...

That's great, Geoff! I'm proud of you! Regarding the nervousness not knowing what to expect, I'm sure it'll become easier for you. You're a brilliant guy - you'll grow into it. Good job!