how to not suck at teaching social theory

Yesterday, there was a discussion started by Jeff Guhin about how to be better at teaching theory:

My suggestions for better theory teaching:

  1. Drop history of social thought
  2. Minimize jargon
  3. Drop meta-theory

How to do it??

  1. Teach theory as an engine for generating concrete explanations of social phenomena.
  2. Use lots of current examples.
  3. Use lots of empirical examples
  4. BUY MY BOOK!!!!

Seriously, when I switched from “classical sociology” to teaching actual social theory, the students just got it way better and the class made sense, instead of being a long string of disconnected examples (“then we did Marx and then Weber and then intersectionailty and then some rational choice”).

Be brave – drop classical theory and teach the social theory students deserve.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!  

Written by fabiorojas

April 6, 2018 at 4:09 am

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. And try not to split infinitives.


    Jon Awbrey

    April 6, 2018 at 11:43 am

  2. Look, I only promised social theory…



    April 6, 2018 at 1:26 pm

  3. What if over the years you have gradually evolved a way of teaching classical theory that is not merely history of social thought; is not a disconnected string of authors, but rather a mostly logically-connected sequence of themes (far more coherent than an intro class); and uses a lot of empirical historical and current empirical examples derived from a extensive knowledge of the theorists’ work rather than teach the cliched and mistaken textbook conclusions that sociologists have inherited from previous generations?

    Also, in many cases, infinitives can be split, and in some cases, infinitive MUST be split.


    Joshua Howard

    April 6, 2018 at 5:40 pm

  4. Although I agree that contemporary is a mess of arbitrary approaches and great names, and should probably be taught like you say.


    Joshua Howard

    April 6, 2018 at 5:43 pm

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: