As a member of the CAS faculty, Alan Fox fills many roles — among them, professor of philosophy, specialist in Asian and comparative philosophy and religion, and director of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program — but the one he finds most fulfilling is classroom teacher.
"In teaching, you're actually shaping people's minds, one at a time," he says. "This is really a mission for me, changing the world by preparing people to be thoughtful, good citizens."
His passion and dedication to teaching have now been formally recognized by the American Association of Philosophy Teachers (AAPT), which has named him one of two recipients of a National Teaching Fellowship. The fellowship began Aug. 15, and during his two-year term, Fox is tasked with developing a project designed to advance the teaching of philosophy.
He plans to survey members of the association about their own learning styles and methods of reading critically and then compile the results into a bank of syllabi and teaching tips that can be shared among teachers and students. The focus is on helping educators "empower students to cultivate their own learning style," Fox says.
Teachers in any discipline undoubtedly have valuable advice that students would find useful in their own education, he says, but philosophy is an especially good subject for challenging and engaging students.
"I think reading philosophy is a very critical way of reading," Fox says. "I teach a lot of juniors and seniors, but even they are often inexperienced in the kind of learning we do. In philosophy classes, students learn how to construct an argument, how to read and write critically and how to think deductively."
The AAPT recognizes philosophy teachers with other awards as well, but Fox says he's especially honored to receive a fellowship that concentrates on teaching — and that won't take him away from his regular class schedule at UD. He's looking forward to interacting with philosophy faculty members across the country over the next two years and discussing ideas about teaching.
"There aren't that many opportunities for teachers to express and share their enthusiasm for teaching," he says. "This is a chance for me to help spread that enthusiasm, and I expect to learn as much as I convey to others."