Welcome to my class!

First of all — a few words about this blog…

I’ve found that once a professor speaks in a discussion area, the students shut up — and I don’t want that.  My solution is to write this blog — so you’ll get a view of what I’m thinking about a topic without my interrupting what I hope to be good discussions on the topic of the week.

Also, you’ll see that I’ve used the “categories” to help  you find older posts on topics discussed in class — my goal is to write a new post every week of the semester for every topic my classes are “discussing”.  You’ll find similar posts by looking back in the appropriate category.  You’ll notice that my positions have changed on things or that I’ll sometimes use a current event to write on a tangent concerning the topic — that’s what academics, especially philosophers, do.

A little about me — First of all, you can call me Patty or Dr. Steck — either is fine.  I’m not “Mrs. Steck” as of last year — and soon I’ll be Dr. Courtney — but for now either Patty or Dr. Steck works… because I do have a Ph.D. in philosophy :).

I’ve been at Century since the fall of 2003 and I’ve been teaching philosophy since the fall of 2001.  I grew up in Minnesota and most of my higher education happened in Nebraska — so when I make Nebraska jokes, I know what I’m talking about :).

I’m divorced — I have a partner who is important in my life and a cat… it’s just about the way I like it.  We (the partner and I) travel a lot, take photos and listen to the Grateful Dead.  I’m sure sooner or later I’ll show you a photo of my cat and I’m pretty sure you’ll see photos that my partner or I took — it’s just what I do… I like to include a lot of my own personality and experiences in my classes — and I try not to make them tangents, but sometimes it can’t be helped.

In terms of how to do well in this course — which is what students always want to know — it’s pretty simple.

1) Keep up — do the reading, take the quizzes, write the discussion posts and generally make sure you’re understanding things.

2) Use your resources — you have several ways of contacting me and other students, so use them.  Also, reference the reading guide and use the links I provide to help understand the material.

3) Ask questions if you don’t understand something.  This is really important — don’t just assume you can slide by, because it’s your education and you’re paying for it — so you should get the most out of it.

4) Plan ahead for big assignments — make sure you’re ready to take the exam.  Make sure your papers are in on time.  Plan for last-minute things to come up, because they always do.  It’s inevitable that when you are nearly done with the best paper EVER, the power will go out, your laptop will die or some other disaster will strike.  Back up your work as you go and give yourself plenty of extra time to get big assignments done.

Generally, philosophy is about the exploration and exchange of ideas about the world.  Ethics is more about the question of what we should and should not do — how should we treat one another, animals and the environment? These are not questions that have easy answers, nor are there RIGHT answers to the important aspects of the questions..

To that end, sometimes students will explore ideas they don’t agree with — they may take positions that are opposite of their own to see how others react.  I mention this because I expect ALL students to be treated with respect, and ALL ideas to be given some degree of thoughtfulness when responding.  Google the term “ad hominem” if you don’t know what it is, realize it’s a fallacy and don’t do it..

Anyway, welcome to my virtual classroom — I’d like you to have an excellent class — to be challenged, to have your minds expanded and mostly that you learn something about yourself and the world you live in.

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