Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Judith Collison

Second Advisor

Beatrice Kipp Nelson

Third Advisor

Steven Schwartz


Traditionally, high school English classes have been "tracked", according to ability level. This thesis addresses the problem of teaching an English course to a heterogeneous group of students with diverse academic backgrounds and a range of abilities. It shows how a philosophy-based approach to teaching, as compared with the traditional/didactic approach, provided a means for every ability level of student to participate in the thinking/learning process. "Philosophical teaching" is a method of teaching and a way of learning that promotes critical thinking, self-expression, and reasoning through self-reflection, while developing critical and moral consciousness at the same time. It is a method of inquiry that relies on the use of Socratic questioning, small group discussions, and empathic modes of learning as its primary teaching tools. Given the circumstances of this night school English class, both teacher and students found that philosophical teaching proved to be a viable way to help adolescents learn the required content and to think critically and morally.

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