First College Lecture


Was yesterday (but I’m still riding the high from it today!). The course is Introduction to Philosophy. The topic was Mind/Body Dualism, with a special focus on ‘The Disembodiment Argument’ (a modern day extension of a Cartesian-style argument in defense of state dualism). It was 120 students and I was so-super-anxious of presenting. I over-prepared and embedded a whole bunch of questions into my notes in hopes to fuel class discussion. I think philosophy is super-interesting (especially topics such as mind/body debate) and it blows my mind when people aren’t all about it the minute you try and start a discussion in that direction (as opposed to, say, a discussion geared towards an evaluation of Starbucks service on campus)-but I digress. The lecture went well, really well. I didn’t know that during the lecture, but I noted students seemed to be paying attention and focused on me whenever I’d peer out to the sea of heads. While I had no problem covering all the material in the time allotted, given that I default-speak at about a mile a minute (and double that time when I’m in anxious-excited-presenter mode), I do regret not better pacing myself (better as in slower, easier to follow) but of all the things I thought could go wrong, my rapid-speak proclivities were not the end of the world. When it was all said and done, students were dismissed with a few minutes to spare. I didn’t know for sure if I had been even remotely comprehensible, and while some good discussion and questions had emerged, the discussion hadn’t taken on a life of its own, as I had hoped. Maybe philosophy isn’t as super-cool and interesting as I think it is–was the thought I was left toying with as I began shutting down the power point and packing my material. While students shuffled in lines out the classroom, a small group of students shuffled into a line towards my podium. One by one, they came up to let me know what a great job they thought I did, and how much they had enjoyed the lecture. Two students made comments about how interesting they felt the topic was and how it was making them think about related issues in science courses they were taking, two other students came up to apologize for not saying more during the discussion but explaining that there were very engaged in the matter, and just too worried about how well they would be able to articulate themselves or organize all the thoughts that were running through their heads. One other student wanted to know if I’d be giving any more lectures during the semester. Matt, my friend and fellow TA for the course, also gave me positive and constructive feedback. Since the lecture, two female students have approached me to ask questions about pursuing a major in Philosophy. Clearly, I hadn’t bombed. Some of the questions I had embedded in the presentation did require higher-order reasoning skills, and at times I wasn’t careful with using the most accessible vocabulary, and those factors were likely hindrances to facilitating discussion participation at the level I had hoped. But there was evidence that students were thinking and engaged and into it and minds were ‘racing’ and ‘make connections’ and I was left with such a sensation of accomplishment- that I’m facilitating something worthwhile and invaluable- sparking moments of critical thinking and self-reflexivity- challenging perspectives to challenge and develop their own perspectives in a novel and significant way. So, the most terrifying and anxiety-ridden responsibility I had taken on since starting my graduate career (this 1 hr 15 min lecture to a class of 120 students), resulted in the most rewarding and affirming experience thus far that the graduate school context is maybe exactly where I belong.


One Response to “First College Lecture”

  1. Jameson said

    This is awesome. Congrats. I’m looking forward to hearing more in person!

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