MCC Instructor Jim Gould Challenges Students to Think for Themselves

MCC Instructor Jim Gould Challenges Students to Think for Themselves

MCC Instructor Jim Gould Challenges Students to Think for Themselves

For the past 27 years, MCC philosophy instructor Jim Gould has been challenging his students to think for themselves with moral questions such as: What does it mean to trust? or When is lying justified?

Students in a recent Introduction to Ethics class sat in small groups to analyze seven brief scenarios of whether adults were consenting to sex—or not. Whether the topic is trust, forgiveness, honesty or morality, Gould said he wants students to apply what they learn in class discussions to their own lives.

“I want students to think deeply about everyday issues that are exposed in class. “I believe in rigorous classroom atmosphere—grounded in scholarship and really relevant to students. For example, when we talk about trust, they can think critically about their own life experiences—when they trusted someone or someone had to trust them.”

This semester, Gould also teaches bioethics and co-teaches a Learning Communities class: “Morals and Malice in Middle Earth: A Hobbit’s Journey through Good and Evil.” To pique students’ curiosity, he begins his classes with an intriguing question, a real-life scenario or a film clip, including episodes from MASH for his ethics classes.

When students are stuck on a philosophical idea or when just plain lecturing doesn’t work, Gould will stand on a table, hang toys from the ceiling or pop balloons in a dramatic gesture to engage his students. The entertainer side of him comes from his undergraduate days as a broadcasting major and working for a couple of years as a TV cameraman.

“Part of good teaching is being a performer and loving the subject,” Gould said. “Really engaging teachers possess a performance element. That says to students that this is a cool topic.”

Gould developed a passion for discussing deep subjects as the son of a minister. In addition to teaching about great philosophers and moral theory, Gould’s goal as a teacher is to contribute not only to a student’s intellectual development, but to their personal flourishing.

“I want them to be a better person and live a better life,” he said.


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