She opens students’ minds to the world of philosophy
Jacqueline Scott is one of four professors who received Loyola’s Excellence in Teaching Freshmen Award. Here, she talks about her love of teaching, how she got interested in philosophy, and why she likes to power walk for 26.2 miles.
How did it feel when you heard you won this award?
I was really excited when I found out. It was a complete surprise. I love teaching, and teaching first-year students is fantastic. Most of them have never had any philosophy before, so some of them say, “I don’t even know what this stuff is.” But others say, “This is awesome.” We expect a lot of them, so it’s good to hear that my students thought that I had done a good enough job and was deserving of this award.
What classes do you teach?
At the Core level I teach ethics, but I also teach 300-level classes for majors and minors such as Nietzsche, Chinese philosophy, African-American philosophy, Race Theory, and some graduate classes as well.
Have you done any research projects while you’ve been a professor?
I’ve co-edited a book. I’ve published about a half-dozen articles and given a lot of talks on them. I’m currently working on a book manuscript on Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th century German philosopher.
How did you get interested in philosophy?
Most people in the United States don’t have philosophy classes before college, and that was the case with me. I was actually required to take a philosophy course for my undergraduate degree, and it just blew my mind. I was never good at memorizing little facts—they just don’t stick in my head. But with philosophy, you didn’t have to memorize little individual facts. You had a whole theory to think about. I could just see the logical connections.
What is your favorite part about teaching?
I love having students come in with either no preconceptions or with negative preconceptions about philosophy and then being able to get them to recognize their skills. So that all of a sudden they are excited about philosophy and everything that is telling them, “You’re not going to get excited,” or “You’re not going to like this,” it all vanishes. Even if it’s just for a few moments, that is incredibly satisfying.
What is your biggest challenge with being a teacher?
I think it’s that our culture doesn’t really read books as much anymore. Instead, we tend to want things to be in little snippets, like a tweet. I think a lot of the good parts of life are long, hard ideas. And so the challenge is trying to get students to realize, “Yeah it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”
Do you have any hobbies outside of the classroom?
I just finished training for my 10th marathon, so that takes up a lot of my time. I don’t actually run—I power walk—so it’s not as hard on my knees and psychologically it’s not as tiring for me. My fastest time is 5 hours, 43 minutes; my slowest was 6 hours, 20 minutes. I also have an 8-year-old and an 11-year-old, so they keep me busy with all of their activities.
About the professor
Hometown: Grew up in the Chicago suburbs and now lives in the city.
Professor at Loyola since: 2000
Courses taught: Ethics (Phil 181), 19th Century Philosophy (Phil 306), Race Theory (Phil 389 and Phil 468), Asian Philosophy (Phil 335), Nietzsche (Phil 422).