Life, the Universe, and Everything

A Course Blog for GET1029/GEK1067

Category: Course Matter (page 2 of 4)

A 42-Seconds Introduction of the Tutors

It’s Week 2 of the Semester already, and tutorials start in Week 3. A good time to introduce the tutors for GET1029 Life, the Universe, and Everything!

W01 Q/A Part 4: Life

Whats the meaning of life

Will we become all depressed or become great thinkers? Will everything become meaningless?

how to deal with weekly existential crises? :c

Is it true that ignorance is bliss?

Do you become more cognizant as you learn? Or do you feel like the more you learn the lesser you actually know?

Will we gain more IQ? Will I get a good looking partner? Does it even matter? Do we have free-will? So is freedom a mere social construct that we use to lie to ourself?

“Meaning of life” isn’t one of the topics in the module, though Topic 1 will be relevant. Also, the module can’t promise that you will “find meaning in life” by taking this module. Nonetheless, I hope that by the end of the module, you would have picked up the sensibility to see that the whole matter (“meaning of life”) is actually a more involved topic than might appear at first sight–since answering it will require that we have a plausible idea about what kind of “meaning” we are talking about in relation to “life”, since, presumably, the may meaning in question is clearly not the same as the meaning in the question What is the meaning of “life” (i.e., the word “life”)? So before we can start, we need a theory about the the sort of meaning that non-word things can have…

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W01 Q/A Part 3: Philosophy and Studying Philosophy

Hey prof what if we find out halfway into the mod that Philo doesn’t really work for us?

shouldve taken something else to clear my humanities basket sry

If the module isn’t working out for you, it’s not too late to drop. This is serious advice here–I always tell students to please read modules that you are interested in whenever given the chance.

I really dont want to flop this mod, please show me the way

Is there a high bell curve for this module?

How to study GET1029? I’m worried I don’t study in the wrong way.

how do we keep up with the module? esp students from a vastly different faculty

do you have any tips if we are looking to take philosophy as a second major?

What is the best mindset to have when approaching this module?

How well-versed in philosophical jargon do we need to be to properly experience this module?

The curve for this module is… very classical. Mostly because of large numbers. By the way, in case you are under some misinformation–the NUS curve is actually relatively forgiving. No one needs to fail, for instance. Also, if there’s good reason to deviate, we will just have to deviate and justify. I also take it a matter of doctrine to design modules that–in principle–everyone enrolled can pass. That is, I see it as my job to give you the sort of structured learning experience that, as long as you are willing to do the work, you will be able to learn and pass! So how to keep up? Take the intended workflow mentioned in W01 seriously and be consistent. Work together with tutorial small group mates and other peers–test each other’s understanding. Don’t be shy to reach out to your tutors or I to seek clarifications where needed. All this applies whether you are intended to take Philosophy as your first major, second major, minor, or just reading this module.

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W01 Q/A Part 2: On Quizzes, Logic, Groups, and other Module Matters

re the quizzes up on lumiNUS yet? I can’t seem to find them

Are numerous attempts allowed for each weekly quiz?

Will we be able to see the quiz marks upon completion each time so we can retry for full marks?

What’s the difference between MCQ and MRQ?

Is there a time limit for the quizzes?

How long and elaborate should our MRQ [probably referring to the SAQs] responses in the quizzes/exam be?

The first quiz begins in Week 3 on the Monday following the Webinar “W02 Well-being”. It will show up in Luminus>Module>Overview>2 then, and be open for a whole week. There isn’t a time limit each time you try it, only a final deadline. You can attempt as many times as you like but we will only take the last submission (do remember to actually submit). The correct answers and scores won’t be shown until the quiz has closed (the following Monday) and I have published the full quiz explanations, usually soon after.

An MCQ only has one selectable answer. An MRQ (Multiple Response Question) allows you to select as many options as you want. I intend to create some MRQs with between 1-4 correct options (none will have 0 correct options). You can get the mark for that question only if you select all of the correct options.

An SAQ (Short Answer Question) basically requires you to write a mini essay. I’ve not decided on the exact word limit yet but it will likely be in the 100-200 words range. For comparison, the first paragraph above (“The first quiz begins in Week 3…”) has 92 words. So the answers are expected to be relatively succinct. The plan is to make them a bit like what you are asked to do for the group discussion summaries–so it’s more about your responses. Except that this time, you really shouldn’t be exhibiting serious misunderstandings.

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W01 Q/A Part 1: On Readings, and Language

Does philosophy involve a lot of English? I saw the readings for week 1 and anost mistook it for an English class.

All the readings are in English, so you need to be competent in the language to understand them. For the most part, they aren’t written in an extremely sophisticated style nor are we worried about discussing more subtle nuances for the purposes of this class. But we are counting on you to be able to grasp basic content. And we are here to help you notice crucial distinctions in ideas. 

Remember that you are now taking a class in an English speaking university within the Humanities division of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. More generally, you absolutely need to be competent in language to be able to get the most out of an university education. This same point holds if the classes were taught in Swahili or Russian or Babylonian–just swap the language.

If you feel that you aren’t there, then let me encourage you–we can all improve through shameless practice. I did not grow up in an English speaking home environment myself. So keep working! And keep in mind that doing philosophy isn’t really about being good with an upper class sounding use of language. Philosophy can do in Singlish one! The point here is just about being able grasp (enough of) what the readings are saying, and being able to follow the Webinars and Tutorials. And of course, expressing oneself in a clear and intelligible way to your audience.

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How It Looks Like From The Other Side

Roughly the first half, until just after the break…

A 42-Seconds Self Introduction

For the AY2020-2021, Semester 1 run of GET1029 Life, the Universe, and Everything!

A Message for the Philosophy Class of 2020

Message for Philosophy Class of 2020 (updated)

Dear Philosophy Class of 2020,Congratulations for having overcome all the academic hurdles between you and your philosophy degree! Just because we aren’t able to do our usual class party this year, it doesn’t mean we have forgotten you. In fact, the actual commencement ceremony is still being planned for the coming year when things are, hopefully, better.In the meantime, the department—your profs and admin manager—have produced a message collage video for you. We can’t guarantee that it will be one of those little things that makes a big difference, but we certainly hope it will mean as much to you as it has been for us to put it together.(This is the updated version with the two typos corrected.)So, enjoy, and help pass the word around to your classmates.All the best and keep in contact!-loy#PhilosophyClassof2020

Posted by NUS Department of Philosophy on Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Looking back, most of the students graduating this year came from the batch that took GET1029 back in AY2016-2017, Semester 1–the very first time I taught the module. Before that time, my main teaching experience had been lecture-tutorial modules with 50-70 students, and seminars with no more than 30 students. It sounds a bit extravagant but teaching 400-450 students every time in GET1029 and attending to the specific challenges presented by the need to scale has changed me considerably as an instructor. And the students of GET1029–their responses, feedback, encouragement, criticisms–have been instrumental in this process. Not just in the way the module has been shaped over the years, but in my own growth as well. So thank you, GET1029 class of AY2016-2017 and graduating class of 2020!

Adieu for now…

You would have gotten your results by now. The student feedback has also been released to us. Note that I won’t be teaching GET1029 in Semester 2 as A/P Mike Pelczar and I take turns to run the module–since some students have written in to inquire, you can help pass the word if a friend asks. Prof Pelczar’s version of the module will have largely similar but not identical topics and readings, and we don’t organize all aspects of the module in the same way. It would be best to look at the Luminus page for details. My next run will be AY2020-21, Semester 1. Most of the substantive content on this blog have been archived, and the rest will follow soon. All the best and see you around NUS! -loy

Module Debrief (from L12, AY2019-2020, Semester 1)

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