Category Archives: Education

Chess Coaching Services (and Reasons for Doing So)

I’ve decided to provide chess coaching services (services found on my “Schedule David” page, found by clicking here) for many reasons.  The most-in-my-face reason is that I constantly field questions by tournament players, as well as some online players, the most ever-present being: How in the world did you improve your chess so quickly?  When I played tournament chess between 2008 and 2010, I got the question regularly, especially toward the end of that period, when I began scoring against Experts –I am better than 20% against Experts in the 2000-2099 range.  After not looking at a chess board in about four years –I left play due to migraines experienced as a result of diabetes, and other diabetic-related issues[1]–, I have been able to return to study and competitive play, and I am getting questions much more now.  What has compounded the interest of many players is that I’m an adult making this kind of progress, and adults typically a horrifically difficult time improving.  Many adult players will sit in a 100-200 point rating band for 20 years, despite playing regularly and studying the game.  I can name many examples.  This all sort of a secondary reason for availing myself for formal coaching and advising –in “advising,” I mean to say that I will also be offering the programs that I used for my improvement.  Answering the number of questions put to me would otherwise be impossible without a practical means of making room in my busy schedule.  I have always felt rude for holding my routines, etc. as closely guarded secrets; but not only does it take time to convey to a group of individuals, but it also took a tremendous amount of time in research to develop my training methods and routines. Continue reading

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Long is the Way, and Hard…

Despite not having a Beatrice to guide me on my way, I have made it through the seven circles of hell.  Not Dante’s, de la Maza’s.  (Click here for details.)  On March 5th I completed my first run through de la Maza’s Seven Circles of Hell program.  I noted the variations I would make in the program in the previous blog post on this topic (found by clicking here).  The big question is, did it work?  I have to let the numbers do the talking.  While I don’t have chess.com (blitz rating) data points that I can use to find what kind of linear regression is at work, the charts the site offers can make for a good estimate of what happened.  Here are the charts of the progress.

 Circles 1

 

Circles 2

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22nd Annual (2015) Kent State Philosophy Graduate Student Conference In Remembrance of May 4th (Part I)

Among all of the conferences that I have attended or presented at, Kent State’s Graduate Philosophy Conference was the most professionally done of the bunch.  I think the reputation of this conference is growing, based on the quality of the papers presented (and from the number I heard that were submitted) and representatives present from top school; this year there were two Harvard students and one Oxford student presenting, along with some of the most creative philosophers-in-training from the American West to East Coast, California to New York, as it were.  For anyone looking a good and productive venue to make intellectual progress, I strongly suggest submitting to this conference in the future.  Continue reading

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Developing a New History of Philosophy

An immediate response to the title is: Do we need yet another history of philosophy?  Anyone vaguely familiar with their local library’s selections and new arrivals will have seen half a dozen such histories, ostensibly, at least.  For example, Anthony Kenny has recently put out a set of volumes, and there has even been the instantiation of a very ambitious attempt at a “History of Philosophy without Any Gaps” by Adamson.  Go beyond that, and there are more or less scholarly compilations by Bertrand Russell (much less), Frederick Copleston (more), and Will Durant (less).  Smaller chunks of history have been, in some respects, very competently done.  I stress the qualifier “in some respects,” a great example being A History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages by Etienne Gilson, which beautifully ties together a number of the ideas with theirs sources (and the relation of the ideas) and philosophers to their intellectual forbearers and inspirations.  However, that work fails as a history qua history.  Continue reading

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A Reflection on the Introduction of Josh Waitzkin’s “The Art of Learning” and the State of Academic Philosophy

the-art-of-learning-Josh-WaitzkinI was rereading Josh Waitzkin’s The Art of Learning[1] the other day, and it resonated with me much more so than when I read it in 2007.  I suspect part of this has to do with the fact that I was studying physics at the time, and, by now, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in philosophy departments and at workshops/conferences/get-togethers with graduate students in philosophy.  In the introduction, in addition to recounting some of his experiences as a young chess sensation —perpetually the highest rated chess player in his age group from the very beginning—, he talks about his experiences in Columbia University’s philosophy department from his days as an undergraduate student.  His discussion includes the frustration of having to deal with philosophers (i.e., philosophy professors) who constantly deride certain ideas, take on a smug countenance when presented with difficult to verbalize ideas, and switch to a mode of think that is anything like serious whenever faced with an idea that is not easily resolvable in focus, especially vague terms, terms that are moderately or extremely mystical, Eastern in philosophical disposition, and so on.  Waitzkin says, ‘Whenever I had an idea, I would test it against some brilliant professor who usually disagreed with my conclusions.  Academic minds tend to be impatient with abstract language— when I spoke of intuition, one philosophy professor rolled her eyes and told me the term had no meaning’ (p. xvi).  This is the thing that bothers me about the circles I have roamed in, to this point, and maybe things are different in different departments, but I my experience corresponds to this.  The student of philosophy very quickly learns what cannot be said around the tenured professors.  Admirably, and no doubt partly due to his undergraduate naivety and partly due to his willfull nature, Waitzkin didn’t seem to go down without a fight when such instances arose.

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The Value of Ayn Rand in an Introductory Philosophy Course

The discipline of philosophy is something to be held inviolate; the classroom likewise.  One might be inclined to ask, what is the function of teaching provocative material to an introductory level philosophy class?  There wouldn’t be, if the material didn’t have philosophical import.  If the material does have philosophical import, then why chose, at the very least, something that is provocative?  One important quality that philosophy is supposed to instill in intellectual thought, itself, is a dispassionate nature, whether in judgment or analysis.  Continue reading

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Reflection on a First-Year Professorship: An Experiment in Allowing Students to Choose Texts

This is the first of a number of reflections I hope to do on my first year as a professor of philosophy.  As of right now, I am through the first semester.  It’s been an interesting experience, to say the absolute least.  I don’t mean that simply in terms of outcomes of pedagogical experiments or common experiences of student discontent with grades, but also political and administrative stuff in addition. Continue reading

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