CCRI FACULTY RESOURCE FORUM
Engaging Students on an Attitudinal Level: Theory, Practice and
From the perspective of philosophical pedagogy, an attitude is a basic,
comprehensive, interpretive orientation toward the world and objects in
general. So construed, an attitude internally coordinates affective,
volitional, and cognitive components into a relatively stable and
identifiable interpretive predisposition. Certain cognitive and moral
developmental issues, as well as the contemporary cultural climate, dictate
my decision to clarify and challenge several basic attitudes antithetical to
the adoption and practice of philosophical attitudes. My pedagogical method
for carrying out this task may be characterized as an updated application of
Socratic decentering, which aims at inculcating an attitude shift. The following table represents some of these
The following are some of the teaching
methods I utilize to decenter and destabilize basic attitudes resistant to
the introduction of philosophical inquiry.
1. Critical questioning designed to render problematic what is taken for or
2. Recurrent references to the contextual contingency and historical
conditioning of educational and cultural formative processes that are often
3. Assignment of questionnaires that promote reflective insight into one’s
basic belief system and scale of values.
4. Practical exercises which disclose unrecognized habits of interpretation
perception, valuation and action.
5. Concrete illustrations of the philosophical perplexities inherent and
implicit in what is familiar, obvious, and everyday.
6. Use of thought experiments or hypothetical scenarios to engender the
imaginative adoption of alternative roles and perspectives.
Intermittently illustrating the theoretical relevance of a heightened
historical sensibility by tracing the broad and basic intellectual
traditions that condition our present cultural context.
C. DISCIPLINARY APPLICABILITY
1. History: Inculcates the
transition to a distinctive historical attitude by effecting a historical
distanciation from the present, which decenters the ahistorical attitude
of immediate immersion in the contemporary historical moment.
Historical inquiry puts the present into perspective.
2. Foreign Languages: Decenters the interpretive perspective,
exclusivity, and naiveté of our native language and erodes ethnocentric
tendencies by exposing us to cultural variation.