In one of the great scams of my life, I got to teach one year of an “Intro to Philosophy” elective to some of my favorite HS students. Located in a room way on the end of a hall where almost no admins ever ventured, I scribbled a lot of zeroes onto this blank check and got to work.

Because I was wary that my bosses might be trying to catch me out a bit, some of the focus for the first semester was on terms and rote knowledge, which you can see in this Jeopardy review. But I did what I could to justify the course, pointing out that students were learning concepts, not just philosophical practices. And asking students in the Bronx to remember that consciousness is determined by material conditions isn’t exactly kill & drill memorization anyway . . .

But by the second semester, it was clear that I was going to be left alone, so we opened it up a bit. Cultural studies of Ghost Dog and some Big Pun videos let students play with the debates between Marx and the Young Hegelians about the nature of consciousness, but they also let the students start to delve into their own relationships to the material conditions they encountered day to day, recognizing the ways that we all can shape and be shaped by both ideas and objects.