Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

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Matthew S. Stockton
Faculty Department Chair – Philosophy & Psychology 
Portland Community College
Sylvania Campus – SS 201U
What Philosophy is and How I Teach it:
When it comes to philosophy, literally translated as the “love of wisdom”, it’s important to note that philosophy is what we as humans do by nature.  We encounter problems.  We ask questions.  We seek answers.  The problem is that we don’t always do it very well which is why taking a philosophy course can be very helpful. My courses emphasize the importance of dialogue and fostering a learning community that allows for everyone to contribute.  Where we hone our ability to engage in deeper conversations that emphasize respect and the importance of diverse perspectives.  To learn philosophy is to do philosophy.  This requires active participation as opposed to passive regurgitation.  Trust in the process and know that whatever happens to your existing ideas, the ones you retain and acquire will typically be an improvement on your existing thinking. The purpose of any philosophy course worth taking is to help you be a better thinker and a better person.  Thinking well is analogous to being a successful athlete.  It takes a lot of self-discipline and a willingness to put in the necessary effort.  Becoming a good critical thinker requires some mental lifting and endurance, but the more you do it the less difficult it becomes.  Studying philosophy, when done well, empowers a person to become the best version of themselves through improved insight, nuanced communication, and creative problem solving.
My Journey:

I’ve been teaching at PCC since 2001 with the majority of my classes being offered at the Sylvania campus in a physical classroom.  I was raised in the Portland area and finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon with a major in cultural anthropology and only a minor in philosophy (I will likely share this story at some point).  After my graduation in 1995, I moved to Jackson, WY to snowboard for a couple of seasons which was a brilliant and transformative experience.  This was followed by a couple of stints in Washington, DC and Costa Rica before I moved to Missoula, MT to study ethics at the University of Montana.  My studies there culminated in 2000 with me completing a MA in Philosophy and moving back to Portland where I started teaching philosophy at Linfield College and PCC.  Since then I’ve earned another Master’s Degree in 2006.  This one in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis on Marriage and Family Therapy from Lewis & Clark College with which I operated my own private counseling practice from 2006-2010 working with individuals, couples, and families.  While initially done to supplement my income as an adjunct instructor I also found the experience enriched my teaching greatly.  Having since become a full-time instructor, I’ve since retired from active practice.  However, feel free to approach me if you have any specific issues in life that you’d like some quick perspective on.  In 2010 I was hired into the full-time Philosophy ranks at PCC and am currently serving as the Faculty Department Chair for Philosophy and Psychology at the Sylvania campus.

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.  

~John Dewey