A couple of years ago I became enamored of concept mapping, and did a lot of work to integrate concept maps into teaching political theory. I made diagrams of the argument in Book 1 of Plato’s Republic, of Hobbes’s account of the sources of social conflict, of Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, or Rousseau’s Social Contract. Here’s one that’s intended to capture the structure of Locke’s defense of toleration:
I found these maps very illuminating, but some (many?) of my students found them too confusing. “Couldn’t you simplify it a bit more, into a list of bullets?” Well, yes… but what fun would that be? It’s the complexity that’s interesting. Probably my mistake was to introduce the full complexity up front, instead of giving the students the elements and having them figure out the map (or the alternatve possible maps). As usual, too top-down, not interactive enough.
I also ran into a technical problem, however, that has deterred me from creating more of these. Continue reading Concepts Maps in Teaching Political Theory