I have been teaching in Liberal Studies since 1988, and I continue to learn new things every day about the infinitely fascinating art of teaching and about great books and ideas.
My goal in each class is to create a place where students can discover what they think about important questions. The questions are supplied by great works of philosophy, history, religion, and politics.
For example, Job in the Hebrew Bible asks why God lets innocent people suffer. Confucius asks how we can balance the different parts of ourselves and of our societies. Plato asks if it pays to be moral. Machiavelli asks how political leaders really get ahead. Descartes asks if we could be mistaken about everything. Rousseau asks if we can be free while obeying all the rules of a modern society. Marx asks why the people who work hardest have the least money. Virginia Woolf asks if women aren’t really superior to men.
We examine the writers’ answers and talk about whether we can agree with them or not. Some students do agree and others do not, and the best discussions occur when students with different perspectives explain their points of view. My job is to clarify difficult ideas, ask further questions, and make connections among students’ comments.