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Socrates didn`t teach. 1hat seems to be a consequence o Socrates` disaowal o episteme and his claim
that only those with episteme can really teach. But though I argue we should take both those claims
seriously, I nonetheless take Socrates to be an exemplar o best practices or teaching. Instead o teaching
by rote or oisting iews on others, Socrates acts as a guide or students to ind their own way to a deeper
understanding. All good teachers surely aim to do likewise.
\hat Socrates lacks as a teacher, by his own lights, is the right kind o account - an account adequate to
persuade as wide a range o people as possible. Lacking such an account, he has to tailor his presentation
to indiidual interlocutors, dazzling Meno with doctrine where he would try out theories with 1heaetetus.
And this tailoring, it seems to me, is the most challenging part o teaching: helping students o disparate
belies, with aried skill sets, to ind their own way to a deeper understanding o themseles and the world.
\hen I began teaching, I was particularly impressed by the electriying eect Alan Code`s lectures had on
students. le asked students to connect Aristotle with contemporary psychology, and Lpicurus with
epistemic externalism, and the close interest o the senior philosophy majors inected the reshmen who
didn`t always ollow. I still hold my classes to a high standard: I assign a signiicant chunk o Aristotle`s
!"#$%&'()*( in my ancient surey and expect students to engage with it as a philosophical text.
But in the years since I began teaching, I'e come to realize just how widely the skill sets o my students
ary, and how many skills I had been taking or granted. In particular, during the year I spent as a graduate
tutor at the Athletic Student Center, working with some o the least well-prepared students at Berkeley, it
was brought home to me just how lucky most Berkeley students hae been, and just how many skills some
students hae neer had the opportunity to acquire. lor instance: a wordy or unclear syllabus can induce
despair suicient or poorly prepared students to check out completely. I`e attached a concise one.
1utoring also helped me recognize and ormulate strategies to help better-prepared students acquire more
demanding philosophy skills. lor instance, the standard adice, that students will hae to read
philosophical texts multiple times, is oten counterproductie or passie readers. 1hey don`t get $+'#&)+,
out o the reading on the irst pass, and so lose hope that they eer will. So, to help my students become
more actie readers, I now also tell students to ocus their re-reading on the passages we`ll discuss in class.
1his points students who are struggling to the right place, without giing them permission to skip the rest.
Another strategy is aimed to help smart but impatient students to writing papers which better engage
adequately with the course material. 1he idea is simple: I proide motiation or the students to master the
background material beore they write their papers. lor instance, in lower-diision classes I hae begun
giing exams with so-called objectie` questions. 1hese exams don`t teach students how to do
philosophy. But they do put students in a better position to learn to do philosophy.
1he most important skills that most students lack are the skills required to understand and rigorously
ealuate arguments. In teaching those skills, I had always relied on scaolding, but tutoring impressed on
me the necessity o remoing only small parts o the scaold at a time. So, or instance, rather than
haing most o the class crash and burn when they try to ormulate objections to the city-soul analogy in
the -"%./0)*, I present an argument rom analogy and objections to it when discussing the 1%202,'3 Giing
students a clear model or discussing the city-soul analogy in their own papers allows them to deelop their
skills in analyzing arguments in small steps, so that they are not let behind in a demanding class. 1his
strategy, more than any other, has made a dramatic dierence in the quality o my students` papers.
Some modest urther eidence or the success o these measures can be ound in the ealuations below.
,!1*"'! "7#31#!&+',
RA1INGS Ol OVLRALL LllLC1IVLNLSS ,~ery eectie, +~not eectie,
as primary instructor:
89: Philosophy .a, Ancient Philosophy ,Summer .o+.,
8 Philosophy .a, Ancient Philosophy ,Summer .o++,
;9< Philosophy .a, Ancient Philosophy ,Summer .o+o,
89; Philosophy , Knowledge and Its Limits ,Summer .oo8,
89< Philosophy .a, Ancient Philosophy ,Summer .oo6,
;9= Philosophy , Knowledge and Its Limits ,Summer .oo,
as GSI ,~1A,:
89> Philosophy +oo, Philosophical Methods ,Spring .o+.,
8 Philosophy +6o, Plato ,Spring .o++,
;98 Philosophy .a, Ancient Philosophy ,lall .o+o,
;9? Philosophy .a, Ancient Philosophy ,lall .oo,,
;9? Philosophy .a, Ancient Philosophy ,Summer .oo,,
;9@ Philosophy , Philosophy o Mind ,Spring .oo,,
;9? Philosophy 6, Man and God in \estern Literature ,lall .oo8,
;9A Philosophy +6, lume ,Spring .oo,
;9@ Philosophy +6o, Plato ,lall .oo6,
898 Philosophy +., Metaphysics ,Spring .oo6,
89< Philosophy +6+, Aristotle ,lall .oo,
89< Philosophy +oo, Philosophical Methods ,Spring .oo,
;9> Philosophy +.., 1heory o Knowledge ,lall .oo,
898 Philosophy +oo, Philosophical Methods ,Spring .oo,
;9A Philosophy .a, Ancient Philosophy ,lall .oo,
S1UDLN1 1LS1IMONIALS:
! I thought his comments on my papers were ery helpul, and I eel like I`e grown in how I
approach philosophical questions and arguments.`
! Joseph seems to know Aristotle in and out. I always knew that I would walk out o his section
knowing something at a deeper leel than when I went in.`
! I wasn`t particularly looking orward to this course, but it was much more rewarding and engaging
than I expected it to be with Barnes as instructor.`
! I was constantly impressed by how helpul and well-organized the sections were. Joseph is
extremely knowledgeable about Aristotle and brought clarity to the subject matter. Sections were
ocused and I neer let eeling like I did not beneit. Also, comments on papers could not hae
been bettter!`
! I was really surprised by how detailed his reading |o my papers| was and just how high his
standards or precision and clarity were. le always explained his comments and helped me out a
great deal in becoming a more careul and critical reader o philosophy. I eel like he helped me
improe my writing a great deal.`
! Joseph was otentimes considerably more clear than the lectures themseles.`
! Joseph was ery good at presenting diicult material in a straightorward way.`
! I elt that the GSI created an enironment conducie to great philosophical discussion.
Accomodating those students which |sic| may hae had a deeper understanding o the issues in
question while keeping less knowledgeable students engaged.`
! Incredibly engaging and had great control o discussion section ,especially or philos GSI,. Did
excellent job o oercoming proessors shortcoming and adding content to readings,lecture`
! |\hich topic was most interesting| 1he entire course was great!`
! A great intro course to philosophy.`
! Very interesting class. Joseph made lectures clear and interesting...`
! Instructor is enthusiastic about the course and really knows the material. Very interesting
readings. 1hey were a good amount assigned |sic| and I think that made the diicult reading easier
to accept and understand.`
! |Q: \hat was most distinctie about the GSI| lis enthusiasm to help his students and get them
to understand the material.`
! I think Joseph was exceptional. 1he discussions were ery helpul een or students like me who
did not always keep up with the course.`
! Joseph was ery accessible outside o class. 1his makes lie so much easier. 1hank you :,`
! Great teacher - hope to hae him again.`
! Lxceptionally well taught and organized`
! 1he instructor`s isual aides |sic| helped in understanding the arguments.`
! Joe is the best GSI I`e eer had, i it wasn`t or him, the course would`e been a disaster.`
! Joseph is a antastic GSI, perhaps the best I hae eer had at Berkeley.`
! le would make a great proessor.`
! le explained concepts ery well & was unny, which helped to keep ocus and remember the
material.`
! las a talent or making the material entertaining`
! Joseph`s use o humor and relatable examples really helped bring home oreign concepts.`
! Very good and clear written comments.`
! Joseph was always ery helpul and incorporated eeryone into discussion ,not just orcing people
to talk, but engaging with the students instead o just lecturing at them,. le obiously knows what
he`s talking about which means that questions are answered meaningully and helpully.`
! le taught in a ery riendly, engaging manner, and this was helpul because it brought me into the
discussions.`
! Lxcellent! . Joseph is ery helpul and concerned with students` deelopment as writers`
! Lxcellent GSI that was attentie to personal struggles w, the material, ery eectie.`
! |Joseph| was always trying to get us to think independently about tough questions. A great GSI!`
! Joseph really helped me improe on my essay-writing skills in terms o clarity and being concise.
le answered questions really well!`
! I think this class has had an enormous impact on my reading and writing abilities with regard to
philosophy, and I think tutorials were central to that.`
! I I were president o this school, I would require eeryone to take Phil ..`
! le`s pretty unny. I enjoyed coming to class.`
! le made eerything ery interesting and was super helpul and approachable.`
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