Monthly Archives: October 2011

Rant: Teaching Styles in Medical and Philosophy Classes

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As a student of both philosophy and medicine, I see two very different teaching strategies on a daily basis.

My philosophy classes are almost always approached in the same manner: through the readings, I am exposed to a multitude of different perspectives on a single issue. I must then synthesize the arguments and write an original paper that discusses everything I’ve learned and concludes with my own philosophical thoughts, all filtered through a critical lens. These classes stress original, critical thinking, and I don’t think you can argue against the virtue of that.

In my (admittingly rudimentary) medical classes, however, we never read primary sources or discuss the concepts we are learning. The professor shows a powerpoint that basically outlines the textbook for two hours in a 200-person lecture hall. When students are brave enough to speak in class, it’s either a “I once had [insert condition]” woe-is-me story, a useless “Will this be on the test” question, or someone just trying to sound smart. Nobody dares to think critically. Oh god no. That would require too much effort.

It’s a question of epistemology, really

My biggest concern isn’t that my medicine classes don’t provoke me to think critically—I can do that on my own. My qualm is with the way I am evaluated. Continue reading