ONTARIO PHILOSOPHY TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION

CONFERENCE 2019 PROGRAM
MONDAY, APRIL 29, 2019

Jackman Humanities Building (JHB)
University of Toronto
170 St. George Street
Toronto ON M5S 2M8
(Opposite the St. George Subway Station)

8:00 – 9:15 REGISTRATION (JHB 100B, 1st/ground floor, to the right of the elevators)
Fee: $40.00 for teachers; $10.00 for post-secondary students and teacher candidates with ID. Cash or cheque only, made out to OPTA.
There is no pre-registration.

Coffee, beverages and muffins are available in the foyer.

9:15 – 10:15 MORNING SESSIONS
1.  Alistair Macrae - Teaching Ethics with the Help of Two Immoral Literary Characters. (JHB 100A, 1st/ground floor)
In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, the odious Lord Voldemort engages in all manner of immoral conduct. This presentation compares Lord V’s understanding of ethics with that of Callicles, a shamelessly immoral character in Plato’s Gorgias. Is Callicles as shameless as he thinks he is? Under what conditions – if any – is it appropriate to be shamed into pursuing a course of action? These are two of the questions that I will address. A list of articles concerning Callicles will be distributed. If you bring a USB, I will give you a copy of my PowerPoint presentation.

Before retiring from a 30-year career as a secondary school teacher, Alistair Macrae taught the Grade 12 philosophy course at a Toronto private school for eight years. He presently teaches two non-credit courses for the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.

2.  Tamara Ray – Philosophy Fun: Enhancing Learning Through Games (JHB 418, 4th floor)
This workshop is grounded in the idea that philosophical thinking is inherently fun and intrinsically valuable. During this session, teachers will have an opportunity to play philosophical games. Access to clear and easy-to-follow guidelines for how to facilitate the activities will be provided. The goal of this workshop is to provide registrants with the tools to demonstrate to students just how enjoyable philosophical thinking can be, independent of its other benefits. By putting students in the mindset to enjoy ‘doing philosophy,’ students will hopefully be more receptive to and prepared for the more challenging tasks of deep reading and extensive writing. The activities shared in this workshop will assist educators in helping their students meet curriculum expectations for Philosophy: Questions and Theories (HZT4U) and Philosophy: The Big Questions (HZB3M). By the end of the session, teachers will be equipped to implement several fun and meaningful activities in their philosophy classes.

Tamara Ray graduated from the University of Toronto in 2001 with a specialist in philosophy. After a brief teaching stint in Japan, she acquired her B.Ed. at Western and proceeded to work in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. Tamara taught Philosophy: Questions and Theories and IB Theory of Knowledge for 11 years, and IB SL Philosophy for two. As a third-year teacher-librarian, she continues to nurture her affinity for philosophy as a guest philosophy instructor, an IB extended essay supervisor, and the adviser for her high school's philosophy club.
tamara.ray@dpcdsb.org

3.  Sheldon Lawrence - Teaching Philosophy through Literature) (JHB 401, 4th floor)
Literature, like other media forms, often convey philosophical connections better and with more ease than primary or secondary philosophy texts. This session discusses how three monthly novel assignments can lead to a novel essay that connects philosophy to literature. A list of novels that I have compiled over the years will be shared, and additions/recommendations will be welcomed. The key to this assignment is a willingness to share with students what your own canon of literature is. The media we consume is very similar to the arts that we consume as we can make connections to philosophy that we can then share with our students. Novels such as Brave New World, Funny Boy, A Man of the People, Notes from the Underground among others have rich connections to political philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, critical race theory, postcolonialism, and much more. In order to allow for differentiation, students may present abstract art with a one-page write-up. Lastly, rubrics will be provided that allow students an opportunity to connect not only literature to philosophy but philosophy to their own journeying to determine their identity - philosophy as a way of helping one discover oneself.

Sheldon Lawrence has been teaching philosophy (HZT4U) at Louise Arbour S.S. in the Peel District School Board since 2012. He double-majored in philosophy and pure mathematics at York University for his Honours B.A. He briefly pursued a master's degree in philosophy before abandoning it for materialistic pursuits. He is very interested in postmodernism, Marxism, continental philosophy, and Orientalism as it relates to equity issues.
sheldon_lawrence@edu.yorku.ca

4.  Scott Nicholson - A Footnote to Plato: The Problem of Change and the Metaphysics of Time (JHB 235, 2nd floor)
The problem of change is one of the oldest philosophical puzzles, dating back to the Presocratics at least. It's a problem that differentiates the metaphysics of Heraclitus and Parmenides and provides a rationale for Plato's dualism. As the ancient Greeks lived in a remote time and place, it is sometimes hard for students to see their relevance and value, or the relevance and value of ancient philosophical puzzles. However, the problem of change continues to have relevance to modern inquiries in both metaphysics and physics. Following Plato's lead, John McTaggart's thesis on the 'unreality' of time, as well as Einstein's (or Minkowski's) concept of 'spacetime' can both arguably be read as possible resolutions to the problem of change.

This workshop will outline a series of lessons used to show connections between ancient perspectives on the problem of change and modern perspectives on the metaphysics of time, the aim being to show students how certain metaphysical topics have lasting, even 'eternal' significance, and how the wisdom of the ancient Greeks still has relevance. These lessons include a few conventional Powerpoints, worksheets and clips from modern commentators, as well as more unconventional assessments, such as a 'Socratic Dialogue' and a 'Philosopher's Cafe'.

Scott Nicholson is a Philosophy and English teacher at Craig Kielburger Secondary School in Milton. He has taught philosophy for at least five years and hopes to keep teaching it for at least five more, if not the rest of his teaching career. You can reach him at nicholsons@hdsb.ca.

Coffee, beverages and muffins are available in JHB 100B.

10:30 – 11:45 PLENARY SESSION (JHB 100A, 1st/ground floor)

PROF. DAVID JOPLING, York University

Slave, Dog-man, Dumpster Diver, People-hater: Some experts' views on life and death.
This talk is not primarily about the meaning of life, but about how to teach it and how to guide students through the maze. The main goal of the talk is to offer up suggestions that can be taken into the classroom and subjected to experimentation and tinkering: suggestions, for example, about worthwhile readings, online and supplementary resources, examples from real life, examples from the arts, curriculum design, and typical challenges that may arise when teaching this curious topic.

The talk has two parts. In the first part I will discuss some ways to teach the highlights of the ancient practical philosophies of stoicism, cynicism, epicureanism, and skepticism; and how to convey to students the idea that philosophy is, or can be, a way of life. The ancient philosophers Epictetus (slave), Diogenes (dog-man), Epicurus, and Sextus Empiricus are the guides here; and also Dan Suelo (dumpster diver) and Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, both alive and well.

In the second part I will discuss ways to teach more specific problems: Does life have meaning? If so, what is it that gives it meaning? If not, is it all for nothing - and then what? Do pain, suffering, and death rob life of its meaning? Is it a good thing to be, or is it better not to have come into existence at all? Is death the worst thing that can happen to you? Some of the figures to be discussed in this part include Schopenhauer (people hater), Tolstoy, Nietzsche, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus, Wolf, and Nagel.

Dr. David Jopling is professor of philosophy at York University. His research is mainly about human evolution and the evolution of mind. He teaches courses on early modern philosophy, human evolution, philosophy of mind, and the meaning of life. Since the early 1990s he has been interested and involved in philosophy in high school and was one of the early members of OPTA. His books include Self-Knowledge and The Self (Routledge, 2000), Talking Cures and Placebo Effects (Oxford University Press, 2008), and The Conceptual Self in Context (Cambridge University Press, 1997, with Ulric Neisser). He is currently writing a book on the origins of medicine.

12:00 – 1:00 LUNCH
Lunch is not provided. There are several good eateries within a 5-minute walk from JHB.

1:15 – 2:15 AFTERNOON SESSIONS
5.  Veronica Tuzi - The Good Place: Learning How to be a Good Person ...a little too late. (JHB 100A, 1st/ground floor)
Making philosophy culturally relevant can sometimes pose a challenge, but Michael Schur's award-winning NBC show, The Good Place, has thrust philosophy into the limelight as no other show has done before. Almost every episode of this fantasy-comedy is rife with philosophical references and conundrums, as we watch the characters struggle with the study of ethics, and the goal of becoming a better person, so that they can reach the actual Good Place. The brilliant twist to this dilemma is that the characters are dead, and so trying to become good in the afterlife seems almost futile...and yet they persist. After viewing the first two seasons, the realization dawned that using The Good Place to guide the HZT4U1 course would help students to become more engaged and to see firsthand the importance of philosophy in everyday life. In this session, a full year/semester syllabus aligned with the show will be presented, along with strategies of how to incorporate the philosophies presented, and resources that have been developed for each episode.

Veronica Tuzi graduated from York University in 2003 with a double major in English and Philosophy, and went on to pursue an M.Ed. in Philosophy of Education from OISE/UT, graduating in 2008. She has taught high school in the Toronto Catholic District School Board for 16 years and has taught Philosophy (both HZT4U1 and HZB3M1) for over 10 years. She is currently Department Head of Religion, Chaplaincy, and Philosophy at Francis Libermann Catholic High School, TCDSB.

6.  Jeff Hanlon - Sophistry lives! Rhetorical Writing for Students of Philosophy. (JHB 418, 4th floor)
Some teachers rely heavily on the sandwich model of an essay, or other templates that meet with complaints from stifled students. But creativity and technē need not be enemies! This workshop ventures to explore alternative strategies for the writing process that encourage purposeful argumentation, creativity and, yes, structure. This session includes a review of current research and recommended pedagogy for academic writing, with emphasis on "They Say, I Say: The Moves that Matter" in Academic Writing by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein. The session draws upon sample student writing and exercises the untapped rhetorical skills of participants. Come prepared to write and persuade.

Jeff Hanlon teaches Philosophy and Theory of Knowledge for the International Baccalaureate Program (IB) at Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic High School in Kingston, Ontario, and lectures in classical guitar, music education and the philosophy of music for the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University.

7.  REPEAT SESSION: Alistair Macrae - Teaching Ethics with the Help of Two Immoral Literary Characters. (JBH 401, 4th floor) See session 1 above.

8.  REPEAT SESSION: Sheldon Lawrence - Teaching Philosophy Through Literature (JBH 235, 2nd floor) See session 3 above.

2:30 – 3:00 PRESENTATION (JHB 100A, 1st/ground floor)

Dr. Sandra Lapointe - The Collaborative: A New Platform for Educators.
The Collaborative seeks to provide educators from all sectors with opportunities to engage, create and increase their capacity to demonstrate and communicate the value of conceptual tools associated with Humanities, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences: critical thinking, information literacy, deliberative reasoning, citizenship, creativity, empathy, etc. The aim of the presentation is to explain how The Collaborative leverages the creation of person-to-person connections between educators teaching in elementary and secondary school and those working in post-secondary education to involve them in co-creation activities that take into account educators’ limited time and resources.

Dr. Sandra Lapointe is Associate Professor of Philosophy at McMaster University. She obtained her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Leeds (UK) in 2000. A Commonwealth alumna, Fellow of the Humboldt Foundation and Research Affiliate at the Bertrand Russell Research Centre, her scholarly work focuses on the history of the philosophical study of logic, mind and language in the 19th and 20th centuries. She is the author and editor of many books the most recent of which include Logic from Kant to Russell (Routledge 2018), Philosophy of Mind in the 19th Century (Routledge 2018) and Innovations in the History of Analytical Philosophy (with Chris Pincock, Palgrave 2017) and many dozen articles on related topics. She is a Founding Associate Editor and current Editor for Special Issues for the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy. She is a past President of the Canadian Philosophical Association and a Director on the Board of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. She is Project Director for The Collaborative (www.yourcollaborative.org), a partnered initiative with the mission to foster better collaborative culture around social science and humanities education, skills and impact.


OPTA website: www.ontariophilosophy.ca
Contact: kpeglar@rogers.com




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