Karras Evaluation

Home Writing Politics Vita Teaching



Berman Evaluatoin
Kaplan Evaluation
Karras Evaluation
Rhodes Evaluation
Toenjes Evaluation
Student Evaluations

Classroom Observation, Marc Stier, IH 51, 10/18/99

Ruth Mazo Karras

Dr. Stier’s class focused on Plato’s Republic.  He began by briefly reviewing what the class had been talking about last time, and then led the class into a discussion of the origins of war.  He did not lecture, but integrated his own comments and explanations with the class discussion, so that he was steering but not dominating the discussion. 

The students appeared to have absorbed a good deal about the Republic already.  When he referred back to points already covered and asked questions, they were able to answer them.  However, the reading for this class was in a “supplementary” book rather than in Paths to Civilization, and many of the students appeared not to have done it.  From where I was sitting in the back, I could see seven students who didn’t have the book with them.  Perhaps if additional reading is to be required it should be stressed that it is in fact required. 

A strength of this discussion was that Dr. Stier kept technical language to a minimum.  He talked about the kallipolis, and students seemed already familiar with that term; he put a few other Greek terms on the board, explained what they meant and why the English term used to translate them might not be exactly the same thing; but this was all, he did not hit the students with an inordinate amount of new vocabulary.  Rather, he led them in discussing rather complex ideas in accessible language. 

Dr. Stier’s use of contemporary examples familiar to the students was very helpful.  For example, he made the point that in the world of the texts in IH 51, one can acquire more goods only by taking them from someone else, whereas in the world of IH 52, one can increase production.  He introduced this idea by asking the students what we do today to get more food to feed more population, rather than taking land.  He talked about technological advances in agriculture, illustrating a different approach than that of Socrates. He also used the example of European settlers and native Americans to illustrate the idea that for Socrates, there is no cosmopolitan justice. 

Stier ended the class by summarizing some material that the class had not read, in order to put in context what they were to read next time. 

The class was a lively one, and the students who had done the reading seemed actively interested.  My biggest suggestion for improvement would be to place more emphasis on the importance of keeping up with the reading. 

Home | Teaching | Writing | Vita