Philosophy 0540: How To Learn
There are two crucial points to keep in mind.
- This course is fairly easy at the beginning, but it starts to get more difficult after the mid-term, and it then quickly becomes very difficult. And the course is very cumulative: What we do later always depends heavily on what we've done earlier. If you get behind, it can be very difficult to catch up. It is therefore absolutely impossible to learn this material in the two weeks before the final exam, and, if you try to learn it that way, I can pretty much guarantee that you will fail the course. People do fail the course each time it is offered for this very reason. Don't be one of them.
- As with any mathematical subject-matter, it is impossible to learn this material without doing a lot of exercises. The book contains many more than are assigned, and students are encourage to do additional exercises to improve their understanding of the material. Students are also encouraged to work on the problems together—though, of course, submitted material should be a student's own work.
That said, here is how to learn logic:
- You should plan to attend the lectures. I will present the material in a way somewhat different from how it is presented in the book. Moreover, not all material for which students are responsible is in the book.
- You should expect to spend about an hour and a half per class reviewing the material from that lecture and then reading the material for the next lecture. When we have review sessions (which we have for every problem set except the first), you should plan to spend this time reviewing the material for that problem set. Figure out what questions you have beforehand, so you can ask them in class.
- You should plan to attend at least one of the Q&A sessions each week. (See the syllabus for times and locations.)
- As I have already said, learning logic means doing logic, so doing the problem sets is perhaps the most important thing you will do. Note that the early problem sets are easier, and you should expect them to take less time. As the class progresses, the problem sets become harder, and you should expect those to take more time.
- If you have any difficulties while doing the problem sets, or do not understand something that was said in lecture, then contact us for help right away. We are here to help you learn! You can visit us at office hours, or send us email, or just talk to us after class. You can ask any one of us for help. You do not specially need to visit the person who happens to be grading your problem sets.
You should expect to spend about 181 hours of time on this class, which breaks down as follows:
- Class time: 40 hours
- Reading and reviewing: 60 hours
- Q&A sessions: 12 hours
- Problem sets: 6 hours, on average, per problem set, totaling 42 hours
- Reviewing for the mid-term exam: 8 hours
- Reviewing for the final exam, including time spent at the formal review sessions: 16 hours
- The final exam: 3 hours