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HomePhilosophyTikTok Pedagogy: Instructing Philosophy in 60 Seconds or Much less

TikTok Pedagogy: Instructing Philosophy in 60 Seconds or Much less


I educate philosophy on TikTok, maybe to the shock of some colleagues within the self-discipline (who haven’t met me), and to elements of the web. The core skeptical query I’m most frequently requested (or, at the very least, the query that’s at the very least behind the questions I’m truly requested), is whether or not it’s doable to show philosophy in 60 seconds or much less. I’m acquainted with this query. Answering it experimentally is the rationale I began making TikTok movies. Inside 30 days of starting the experiment, I’d answered it within the affirmative to my satisfaction. Right here, I’d wish to reflectively reconstruct why I believe that is the case.

In what we’d loosely check with as “the literature” on pedagogy in larger schooling, “energetic studying” has lengthy been contrasted as a greater mannequin of schooling than the “transmission of data” (ToK) mannequin that many people have internalized and baked into our pedagogy (reflectively or in any other case). 

Within the ToK mannequin, the instructor has some experience, some specialised data, that college students want (and maybe need), and her major goal is to share that data in a deep, rigorous, and complete approach. College students are available with roughly “clean slates” that must be stuffed with the sort (and type) of data that can enable them to interact in some specialised apply or exercise, like, for example, contributing to literature within the self-discipline of philosophy by way of a broadcast analysis paper.

In workshops throughout college campuses, the skilled and novice pedagogues (like myself) that work with facilities of “Instructing,” “Instructing and Studying,” or “Studying Excellence” will generally object to ToK as having been designed, by way of the commercial revolution, as explicitly for the manufacturing of manufacturing unit staff. It’s known as the “manufacturing unit mannequin” of schooling. Pictures of rote memorization workouts—generally lasting 8 hours at a time and led by a stern, fool schoolmaster—are invoked to elucidate why college must completely archive their PowerPoint slide decks. School who resist danger being pejoratively (albeit not directly) labeled the “Sage on the Stage,” which we’re instructed is actually embodying the Dickensian Schoolmaster.

However the response in opposition to the ToK mannequin of schooling in such circles is a bit overstated. (One thing even us pedagogues are beginning to acknowledge.) Some college students want the form of specialised data that this mannequin is most adept at offering. Name it “transmission,” “set up,” or just “sharing,” however many graduate college students wish to publish papers in a extremely professionalized self-discipline, and programs that solely emphasize self-discovery, the “co-production” of data, or mental humility is not going to present that for them. The issue comes when most faculty lecturers—who obtained their PhDs in extremely aggressive, research-focused graduate packages—generally don’t understand that there’s one other, higher option to strategy the undergraduate schooling that includes the overwhelming majority of their instructing obligations.

The brand new mannequin asks instructors to articulate clear studying objectives, and encourages many of those studying objectives to concentrate on one thing apart from creating space consultants, like themselves, or cultivating extremely professionalized expertise, like analysis writing for tutorial publications. 

However when pedagogues like me refuse to acknowledge something reliable in regards to the ToK mannequin, and professors rightly acknowledge that this mannequin is what they, themselves, have discovered to be the simplest a part of their studying course of, the result’s misunderstanding, and generally fairly a little bit of unhealthy religion engagement, throughout. 

So we, as college at (elite) undergraduate (analysis) establishments, must convey the ToK mannequin only a bit nearer to the mannequin most popular by these pedagogues. We’d like a mannequin of “Teaching Intensive Okaynowledge-co-production” (TIK) that we are able to marry to the ToK mannequin. 

We’d like TIK-ToK. 

My 12.6k (and counting) followers on TikTok (the platform) are graduate college students, different professors, center college youngsters, bored undergraduates from different establishments, ex-Mormons (a stunning variety of ex-Mormons), and enthusiastic customers of SoberTok. I don’t presume that they wish to develop any of the experience I can provide them (totally on epistemic duty and its conceptual relationship to doxastic voluntarism), although I generally assume they’d wish to entry it. I’m generally a “Sage” on that stage, and easily report a shaky (cinema verite), straight to iPhone digital camera explainer a couple of troublesome analysis subject I’ve encountered. Way more typically, although, my studying objectives are less complicated. By the tip of most of my Tiks (or Toks, or regardless of the equal time period to Twitter’s Tweets is), I would like my viewers to know one thing like, “The excellence between instrumental and remaining items,” or “How Pascal’s Wager works,” or just “What the shock examination paradox is.” With some cautious consideration, I can design a studying expertise that illustrates these. I can interact in (generally intensive) dialogue about that have within the feedback. I can hyperlink to additional assets for individuals who would possibly wish to go on to declare a philosophy main. 

The trick on the TIK-ToK mannequin is simply selecting the best studying objectives. Not attempting to tackle an excessive amount of (I’d by no means try to survey a complete literature in about 10 seconds), or presume to authoritatively clarify (and dismiss) a complete sub-field or self-discipline. (Except I used to be doing that as. a. joke.)

Would possibly TIK-ToK result in confusion amongst my 12.6k “college students?” Clearly sure. And in the identical approach that my 27, 50-minute “energetic studying” lectures typically result in confusion within the 150 undergraduates who take my semester-long intro to philosophy course at Notre Dame. And in the identical approach that my 5-year-long PhD research left me (one way or the other, nonetheless) unable to articulate what the “artificial a priori” is with any kind of comprehension. Confusion is an important a part of the training course of, as is curiosity, readability, failure, discovery, and, finally, love. To be taught you’ve obtained to turn into excited by data, obsessive about it, generally dangerously so, generally in ways in which would possibly border on compulsion, and even dependancy. How else might somebody, like me, make it by 7 years of graduate research—3 of these with youngsters—making, on common, nearly $20,000 per 12 months earlier than taxes?

Would possibly TIK-ToK on TikTok contribute to the worst cognitive tendencies in an already susceptible inhabitants (e.g. the shortening of consideration spans, the internalization of FOMO, the alarming rise of despair, despair, and anxiousness)? Clearly sure. And that’s one thing I take into consideration month-to-month, fear about day by day, and—ought to I come to a sure form of affirmative reply with certainty—would be the motive why I instantly and completely delete my account. 

You may be taught in virtually any approach, and from virtually any mannequin. The Greeks allegedly did it on foot, on the transfer. The Romans did it on the battlefield, sleeveless within the freezing rain. The medievals did it in quiet monasteries or within the public sq. with a bunch of randos. Our college students principally do it on their iPhones. However whether or not we’re firmly dedicated to a TIK mannequin, a ToK mannequin, or a TIK-ToK mannequin on TikTok, the enjoyment of instructing—the love of it—embraces these modalities. It conjures up a need to be taught from them, on or in them, and definitely with anybody else who’s prepared to discover the opportunity of gaining one thing of true and lasting mental worth by way of their use. 



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Paul Blaschko

Paul Blaschko is an assistant instructing professor of philosophy on the College of Notre Dame and Assistant Director on the Notre Dame Institute for Superior Examine. He’s the Digital Curriculum Lead for Notre Dame’s progressive first philosophy course “God and the Good Life,” and — with Meghan Sullivan — is at present writing a ebook primarily based on the course to be printed by Penguin Press in January 2022. For the previous two and a half years he’s helped administer the “Philosophy as a Approach of Life” grant from the Andrew W. Mellon basis, devoted to serving to philosophers design and educate progressive, excessive affect philosophy programs on problems with that means, worth, and the great life.

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