Podcast Episode 21: Teaching Philosophically With Boris Kapustin

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In this episode we’re joined by Boris Kapustin, one of the most highly regarded teachers in Yale’s Ethics, Politics, and Economics Program. We talk about how he leads seminars on political theory, connects philosophy to historical events, and changes how students think about the world they live in.

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Show Notes

0:00 Intro

0:39 Introducing Boris through his student evaluations.

5:32 What makes your classes special? An unscientific response. Remove what’s redundant and stir their desire to become involved.

10:57 Motivated students are important. How do you select them? Orienting the students towards what’s expected of them.

17:07 Teaching freshmen and Socratic midwifery.

20:36 Helping students extract meaning from impenetrable writing: a boring didactic approach that works.

25:31 Mixing conceptual analysis with historical anecdote without collapsing into pure entertainment (what Boris calls “fun”)

30:43 Teaching and learning as the collaborative production of knowledge.

32:51 Using the disciplinary skills of a philosopher in teaching political theory.

37:28 Bringing the philosophical and ethical matters alive for the students. 

43:15 Learning from and being inspired by your students.

47:18 Overcoming the compartmentalization of disciplines.

51:48 How has your teaching changed over the years? 

57:45 Boris’s teaching failure: when the students believe that classes are only about acquiring information.

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