Featured Teaching: Professor Michael Hauskeller awarded a Higher Education Academy Senior Fellowship for his achievements in teaching
Professor Michael Hauskeller has just been awarded a Higher Education Academy Senior Fellowship for his achievements. Here he reflects on his pedagogical approach:
My teaching objective is to get students to think for themselves and outside the box. Not primarily to acquire knowledge about who said what, but to develop a habit of critical thinking. The history of philosophy, of which I have made ample use, is a tool box, which students have to learn to use to sort out real-world problems. This kind of approach, often identified as ‘authentic learning’, connects teaching to the real world in ways that are meaningful to the learners. Thus, it needs to take into account and respond to the interests, strengths and preconceptions of any given student group. Philosophy is never merely theory. It always has a practical dimension. And philosophical problems are not just mental exercises but are real, pressing problems, although their practical consequences may not be immediately obvious. Students need to understand that, and in order to do so they need constant encouragement and constant challenge: encouragement to think things through for themselves and not trust and rely on the supposed authority of others, but also challenge of their own views. Understanding (which requires empathy) is just as important as criticism. It enlarges our world and opens up new possibilities of thinking, doing, and being. To achieve those ends, one must talk with the students rather than to them. It is imperative to take them seriously and start the reflection with what they have experienced and what they know, and to anchor abstract arguments in concrete experience.
Jan Jobling, Chair of the Philosophy Curriculum Board, adds that the model of learning and teaching Michael describes aligns fully with the University's Education Strategy and Curriculum 2021 initiative. Its aim is to support students to become ‘creative and culturally rich graduates with the capacity to find employment that will enable them to be agents for change in a connected world’.
As a discipline, Philosophy offers multiple opportunities for students to engage with challenging issues of personal and public importance. We’re currently reviewing our curriculum and assessment provision so look out for more practice, creative, inspiring initiatives next year!