Yesterday in class with the first years I gave them an exercise (a very very simple one about Galileo and his contribution to science) to help them 'understand' and grasp the core idea of what they read. Most of them spent 30 minutes reading the 300 words article and at the end of it did not have any idea about what it was all about. Just a handful grasped the essence of the article. One was sure that it was about science 'in' Galeli and when I tried to understand he was sure it was the 'sea of Galeli' that he had in mind.... he never heard the name of Galelio Galeli!!
The whole exercise left me thinking the whole day: Here are guys who are struggling to basically read and understand English and we are hell bent on teaching them philosophy!! I very well know that I've made a world of change in my strategy of teaching philosophy - shifting from studying philosophy to thinking philosophically - but is there any better means of helping the students to 'think' wide, deep and effectively...?