levi_bryant-017Okay, I couldn’t resist… Here is one of my latest publicity photos for the College. Yes, I’m a narcissistic cat. It’s entirely okay and understandable if you swoon.

Now on to the substantive issues. Right now we are reading Malabou’s What Should We Do With Our Brains? for my intro to philosophy course. Although the students say that the materially becomes clearer to them after the class lectures, a few have approached me expressing difficulties with understanding the material as they read it. This came as something of a surprise to me as I think Malabou is an exceptionally clear writer as far as philosopher’s go. On the other hand, philosophy is something one certainly has to learn how to read. Moreover, it is likely that apart from literature courses, philosophy is probably one of the first courses a student encounters where they are required to read primary texts rather than textbooks. Given that people are reading less and less as they grow up, it is likely that reading primary texts, especially of a theoretical nature, is especially challenging.

Some students have asked for tips on how to read the material. Given that there are a lot of brains around these parts, I was wondering what practical and concrete advice other educators might have regarding “how to read”. What tips do you give your students to assist them in gaining access to texts?