We believe your presence at the university implies a commitment to learning, and that communication and thinking develop because of interactions between people. This course represents a social contract between all participants. Instructors have an obligation to provide relevant, interesting materials that facilitate rigorous thought and communication. Each class participant has an obligation to think critically about content, and to contribute in a constructive and professional manner to the education of each participant.

To benefit most from this course, you should treat it as a professional experience. For example, we strongly encourage your participation at every class meeting. We will adhere to high standards of professional behavior, and we encourage you to follow suit.

Please consider employing these suggestions during class discussions:

  • Listen carefully to others before speaking.

  • Challenge and refute ideas, not people.

  • Focus on the best ideas, not on being the best, or "winning."

  • Before adding your own contribution, practice listening by trying to formulate in your own words the point that the previous speaker made.

  • Speak whenever you wish (without interrupting!) even though your ideas may seem incomplete.

  • Avoid disrupting the flow of thought by waiting until the present topic reaches its natural end before introducing a new issue.

  • If you wish to introduce a new topic, warn the group that what you are about to say will address a new topic and that you are willing to wait to introduce it until people have finished commenting on the current topic.

  • Give encouragement and approval to others.

    We will attempt to employ a reflective paradigm of critical practice during class meetings. This paradigm is compared to the standard paradigm of normal practice and is insightfully described by Matthew Lipman in his 1991 book, Thinking in Education. Lipman summarizes the reflective paradigm thusly (p. 14):

  • Education is the outcome of participation in a teacher-guided community of inquiry, among whose goals are the achievement of understanding and good judgment.

  • Students are stirred to think about the world when our knowledge of it is revealed to them to be ambiguous, equivocal, and mysterious.

  • The disciplines in which inquiry occurs are assumed to be neither non-overlapping nor exhaustive; hence their relationships to their subject matters are quite problematic.

  • The teacher's stance is fallibilistic (one that is ready to concede error) rather than authoritative.

  • Students are expected to be thoughtful and reflective, and increasingly reasonable and judicious.

  • The focus of the educational process is not on the acquisition of information but on the grasp of relationships within the subject matters under investigation.

    Students who need special accommodation or services should contact the Disability Resources Center, which is located at 1224 East Lowell Street (voice 520-621-3268). Please provide verification to us no later than the second week of class so we can help provide the best possible learning environment.