• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 3 comments on Strange Bedfellows

  1. All student should learn one thing in schools and colleges .First what is ethics,Morals and duty towards themselves family and nation and how to think logically.
    To much importance on money has created many corrupt practices and law and corder situation.
    I am glad some one in college, a student is talking positively about philosophy .

    I think these classes should be free of charge by all colleges as these will built better citizens.
    Also duty and responsibility of a college and nation.

  2. The problem is much more serious than those interviewed seem to suggest. I admire Prof. Roochnik’s efforts, and, as a philosophy major myself, certainly appreciate the article’s aim in extolling the value of philosophy; however, I worry about the effect this may have on those students who are already majoring in philosophy and need not be convinced of its merits, or, more generally, those who have an aptitude for the discipline regardless of interest.

    There are too many students enrolled in philosophy courses—from the 100-level to the 400-level–who need remedial help with basic analysis, exegesis, and composition. Because philosophy is so discussion-heavy (in written form as well as orally), it is apparent when students persistently fail to understand the material and/or lack the skills to parse the arguments presented in the texts.

    Consequently, there is an apparent disparity between those with an aptitude for philosophy and those who lack the foundational skills required for philosophy. The job of the professor is to improve upon these foundational skills; it is not his or her job to do extensive remedial work. In fact, all students are at a disadvantage in these cases because too much time is spent on basic argument-parsing rather than on more advanced critical evaluation.

    While I agree that all students should have the opportunity to enroll in introductory philosophy courses (especially PH160), we should consider stricter prerequisites for courses at the 300-level and above. I am not suggesting a majors-only track because I do not think this would mitigate the above-mentioned disparity in a substantial way.

    Should we consider separate, remedial critical-thinking and writing courses for those who have demonstrated a need for them? (CAS requires its students to complete a two-course writing program, but its success is dubious to say the least.)

    1. re: remedial critical-thinking and writing courses

      In a nation with the Tea Party and resurgent church participation in government, teaching critical thinking is both needed and politically charged.

      I have never seen a time when people in the USA have been so proud of their ignorance and so dismissive of critical thinking and scientific analysis.

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