Christopher Martin chuckles when I ask if I should call him a philospher.
“Well, not really,” he said.
“I’m an assistant professor in the UBC Okanagan faculty of education and a researcher. The discipline I use in my research is philosophy, so I’m more of a philospher of education in the applied branch of philosophy and I definitely use and encourage philosophical thinking.”
By the way, if you’re a little intimidated, or confused, by all this talk about philosophy, you should just think of it as asking big-picture questions.
“That’s the cool thing about philosophy,” said Martin.
“Anyone can do it. It’s simply asking fundamental questions like: What’s worthwhile? and What is it to live a good life? It’s just a way to kick the conversation further down the road.”
The dictionary definition of philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existance, especially when considered as an academic discipline.
In his teaching and research, Martin uses technical and applied philosophy to argue and debate deep questions.
For instance, his two research projects are the relationship between democracy and education and what should the goals of higher education be in a liberal democratic society.
When it comes to democracy and education, kids, adolescents and adults should be taught to understand other peoples’ points of view and be inclusive.
The goals of higher education project asks an important question.
Should it be a basic right, like health care, or should it be viewed as cosmetic surgery, something the individual should pay for because it’s being used to boost their employability and income?
Martin is currently leading two courses for students in the education program who will one day be teachers themselves.
The first is a foundations of education class for new university students called becoming a scholar practitioner.
It covers the history and philosophy of education and points out how education is different from indoctrination.
In his class for graduate students, Martin covers teaching and learning in troubled times.
“In a time of growing political polarization, it is important for people to have the ability to see other points of view and come to ethical conclusions.”
Martin is an advocate for reduced student debt and fair access to higher education.
His advocacy has been written about in the U.K. magazine Times Higher Education and he’s talked about the campaign at universities in Canada, the U.S. and Britain.
Martin is a long-distance runner and swimmer.
He’s married to Vanessa, a high-school guidance counsellor.
Together they have a son, Charlie, 6, and a daughter, Lauren, 3.