Hello, my name is Megan Cannon and I think we need to be honest in my guest blog post. I am a junior at Mississippi University for Women (MUW) and fall semester made a C in my intro to philosophy class. It feels good to get that off my chest. I do not normally make Cs, but Philosophy did me in. It’s not so much that it was hard, or even irrelevant but, I did not have the time to devote myself to the vast amount of reading (rather, reading to comprehend) that this course required. Because it was an introductory course it not only covered the history of philosophy, but also the main players, ethics and the philosophical religious debate. All that amounts to a vast amount of reading, the majority of which was difficult to fully understand. Often I would find myself rereading a passage five times before it started to make sense. Also, another reason I did so poorly in philosophy has to do with my 19 hour work load complete with an introductory biology course meeting the same day as philosophy. I didn’t do so hot in that course either. I can start off by saying that I thought I would really enjoy the class, and in the end I really did enjoy it, just not necessarily for the reasons I thought I would.
Philosophy is one the classes required for the core curriculum here at MUW. It is widely known as a difficult class where students rarely make higher than a D. It is taught by Dr. Bryan Hilliard, the only adult Caucasian albino I have ever met. Since we are being honest here, I can say that he was my favorite part of class. Not in that weird hot for the teacher kind of way, but more like in an he is an awesome individual and I was pleased to gain his friendship way. Yes, he did cover a lot of material on his tests, but he did know what he was talking about and he made discussion interesting. The teacher was not the reason I made a C (although he might have had something to do with me making a C rather than a D!)
As I mentioned before, I took biology on the same days that I took philosophy (along with 11 other hours’ worth of classes) and one of the only good things that came out of taking those two classes at the same time was when the two courses would overlap. For instance, when we were studying evolution in biology one week later in philosophy we were going over the existence over God and the things that had been mentioned briefly in biology were being clarified. William Paley, who had been a figure tossed out in biology to explain how Christianity and evolution could coexist (so everyone would at least attempt to learn) was further explained. As someone who always accepted the idea of both God and thought evolution made a lot of sense it was nice to know that such a thing existed. That was the true beauty of the philosophy class for me. Learning that ideas I had always had in my head were actually a real and intelligent thing.
On the final exam Dr. Hilliard asked the questing, “How did you squander opportunities while taking this course?” I answered honestly, saying that I had not done the reading as well as I should have, I spent too much time in class doodling and I should have spent more time studying instead of crocheting while watching Netflix. I made a C in the course, but it did open my mind to several new ideas and a different way of thinking. I do have this advice to people planning or required to study philosophy in the future: Philosophy should be pondered, mulled over and debated. It should not be rushed through, particularly not in conjunction with Biology.
Editor’s note: Today’s guest author, Megan Cannon, has been a colleague of mine at Mississippi Governor’s School for two summers. I asked her to contribute this post because I’m always interested in learning about what an introduction to philosophy class feels like to someone taking it for the very first time. I believe it’s easy to forget something like that once you’ve been teaching for a while. You can check out Megan’s blog at http://megcan09.tumblr.com/, where she writes candidly about topics such as feminist issues.