The Teaching Workshop @ the APA Blog

The Teaching Workshop asks people to send in their questions about teaching!

“The Teaching Workshop is a new, regular feature on the Blog of the APA, run by the APA’s committee on the teaching of philosophy. Every other week, we offer answers to anonymous, reader-provided questions about teaching philosophy. This means we need your questions! Send us questions related to classroom management, student interaction, best pedagogical methods, assessment, or whatever else you struggle with as an instructor of philosophy. If you can, please tell us about the kind of environment in which you’re teaching (SLAC or large public university, for instance) and describe how you have tried in the past to tackle the issue about which you’re asking. Our e-mail is PhilTeacherWorkshop[at]”

Data on Sexual Assault at College

Thanks to CS for writing the following:

There has been some skepticism about the claim that 1 in 5 women is the victim of a sexual assault during college. The American Association of Universities came out with survey results from 27 schools in September 2015, which seemed to support the 1 in 5 number, but it was roundly criticized for a low response rate (19%) among other criticisms. A new survey has been released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. It has improved questions, a much higher response rate (over 50%), and some sophisticated analyses to adjust for non-response bias. It yields nearly the same finding: 21% of women in the 9 campuses surveyed were victims of a sexual assault during college.

The Chronicle story is here:

The actual report is here:

Jenny Saul on ‘racial fig leaves’

Jenny Saul has an interesting article in the Huffington Post about Donald Trump and the phenomenon she labels ‘racial fig leaves’. Many of us are familiar with the political use of ‘dog whistles’ – subtle political messages meant to appeal to biases without explicitly championing those biases, or in some cases to appeal to a target audience without being readily identifiable as such an appeal to those who aren’t the target audience. But, as Jenny points out, Trump’s rhetoric is a long way from the subtlety of dog whistle politics:

Donald Trump is no dogwhistler: he proudly tosses around racial terms, paired with the most hideous stereotypes. And he rises, and rises, and rises in the polls. Does this mean that the Norm of Racial Egalitarianism is no longer in place? I’m not so sure. Some of Trump’s supporters clearly reject this norm, openly advocating white supremacy. But there is no reason to believe that this group of voters ever accepted it–the norm was widely accepted, but not universal. So what of the other supporters? It seems to me that two important things are happening: First, Trump is employing another technique in place of a dogwhistle, one which still allows supporters to believe that he (and so they) are not racist. And second, he’s revealing just what a shallow and limited norm Racial Egalitarianism is.

The technique Trump has been employing is one I’ll call the “racial figleaf”. It involves uttering what would otherwise be clearly a racist claim, and then following up with something that just barely covers it. On some level, we all know what’s there–something you’re not supposed to show in public–but the figleaf lets us avoid acknowledging it.

As she points out, the phenomenon of fig leaf discourse probably doesn’t explain the whole of Trump’s racist speech, but it’s at least an interesting aspect of it, and a clear departure from previous political discourse.