Farewell, Tel

by Harry on December 18, 2009

The greatest living Irishman signs off. (Has anyone else noticed that the volume on the bbc iplayer goes to 11?)

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Hey, did I mention that I (we – Belle and I) published a Plato textbook [amazon]? And that, thanks to me courageously refusing to settle for less, you can read the whole thing free online, even download a complete PDF (print-locked).

Well, I’m mentioning it again because we just got a favorable review for Reason and Persuasion from NDPR, which is very welcome development. “There is no dearth of textbooks offering an introduction to Plato’s thought, but Holbo’s stands apart in the scope of its introductory material and its user-friendly style …” And Belle’s translations get favorable notice as well.

Our book, y’see, contains a larger number of cartoon-y illustrations than your average academic publication, hence risks not getting taken quite seriously, or else getting lumped in with a lot of other cartoon-y illustrated Intros to So-and-So. (That lot are often alright as far as they go, but usually that’s not quite far enough … not for course use.) So I’m happy to read this sort of thing. “One concern I had reading the text with a mind to possibly adopting it for a course is that the introductory material is almost too thorough.”

I’ll take that as a compliment.

Anyway, I am very grateful to NDPR for seeing fit to review the thing, despite its cartooniness; and grateful to the reviewer – Paul Carelli – for taking it straight as well. (Some of my other recent scholarly work is taken less seriously, I fear. Pretty pictures cause small minds to miss a serious message!)

More seasonal, X-Mas posting to follow shortly. (Sorry for light posting. We just moved house.)

Notes on a Class

by Harry on December 18, 2009

I’ve just finished my most enjoyable sustained teaching experience so far. In Fall 2007 I taught a small freshman seminar (with 20 students) on Children, Marriage and the Family. This is part of a program my university has called the Freshman Interest Group (FIG) program (about which more here). 20 students all take a seminar together, and during the same semester they simultaneously take 2 other classes together, usually large lectures in which they are all in a single discussion section. The professor of the core seminar designates the associated classes, which usually, but not always, have some intellectual connection to the core seminar (in my case, they took Sociology of Marriage and the Family, also, unusually, in a 20-person class, and an Ed Psych course on child development in large lecture format). The point of it is not to give them a coherent intellectual experience, though that is a hoped-for component — but to provide them with a “natural” peer group, people with whom to identify in an otherwise large and anonymous campus. Ultimately the idea is to construct an element of their experience which matches the experiences they would normally have in a small undergraduate college. [That said, the integration between the classes was unusually good — even the timing worked out well, without much coordination (for several topics they covered the relevant sociological material just one or two weeks before they covered the corresponding material in the philosophy class).]

I did not do a brilliant job.

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