When I started teaching at my current university I was struggling to fit in. I was doing my best to recreate my own university experience, but I was in a very different environment.
I teach liberal education to first and second year students. My students generally have no idea why they should be studying philosophy or poetry or literature when their Major is in Business or Accounting. They understand it is supposed to make their education “well rounded” but honestly most of them don’t really understand how or why.
Not only was I asking students to read “old books written by white men,” my reading requirements were daunting and so were my assignments. They were asked to read too many pages of philosophy and write three essays and two exams. It was a disaster! Not only was I drowning in marking, my students complained about the amount of reading and writing they had to do. After one terrible semester, I realized this model was not sustainable nor desirable.
My courses are interdisciplinary and my expertise is in ancient political philosophy, so while philosophy is at the core, I also branch out into literature, film, and various other academic disciplines.
I began researching educational models and started to create assignments that focused on the upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. All of the products on Liberal Arts Lite reach the top three levels of the pyramid: analyze, evaluate, and create. I also apply a scaffolding approach based on a Gradual Release of Responsibility and my visual products apply a Dual Coding Theory.
“A liberal arts education offers an expansive intellectual grounding in all kinds of humanistic inquiry. By exploring issues, ideas and methods across the humanities and the arts, and the natural and social sciences, you will learn to read critically, write cogently and think broadly. These skills will elevate your conversations in the classroom and strengthen your social and cultural analysis; they will cultivate the tools necessary to allow you to navigate the world’s most complex issues. A liberal arts education challenges you to consider not only how to solve problems, but also trains you to ask which problems to solve and why, preparing you for positions of leadership and a life of service to the nation and all of humanity. “