Back Into the Field

So, yes, I’m back.

The years since I last posted regularly to this blog have been turbulent, both personally and otherwise, and I found myself drawn away and distracted. Now, though, I think I can make good use of this space to sketch new ideas, to try out new distinctions and new connections, and generally to do the work of a philosopher without the pressures of formal publication.

I’ve changed the name of the blog from “Field Notes of a Practical Ethicist. I was briefly tempted to start over with an entirely new blog, but thought there might be some (slight) value in leaving my old posts here as a kind of archive.

I suppose what I’ve settled on is something like a “soft reboot”. Hence the tagline: “New Field Notes . . .”

We’ll see how this goes.

What I Ask My Students to Write

In my first year of developing and implementing a problem-based learning approach in my ethics courses, I spotted and moved to correct any number of design flaws, small and large. By the end of that year, though, I realized that a well established feature of my courses would have to change.

I had to do something about essays.

At their very best, essays are an excellent form in which to explore and develop ideas. When I used to assign essays, I would hope that students would catch on to the spirit of the enterprise and really try things out, consider possibilities, and generally learn something in the process of writing.

For my students, though, the essay form was too often based on the old five-paragraph plug-and-chug they’d learn in high school, a form that has established itself as one of the most effective thinking-avoidance tools available. Continue reading “What I Ask My Students to Write”