Should philosophy be taught in high school?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Kalns, Mar 18, 2007.

  1. Kalns macrumors regular

    Kalns

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    #1
    I've been thinking about it lately and though this isn't the case with all high schools, the vast majority have completely taken any sort of philosophy program out of their schools. Why is that do you suppose? And should it be reinstated as a required part of the curriculum?
     
  2. SMM macrumors 65816

    SMM

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    #2
    I did not know this. If true (not doubting you, but schools differ), I find it appalling. Philosophy is what binds experience, reasoning and perception. We live in a world dominated by corporations. They do not want philosophers, they want drones. If this is denied in school, it will never be known to the young. Educators should be ashamed to be a party to this.
     
  3. devilot Moderator emeritus

    devilot

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    #3
    I'm pretty sure that educators can only work within the guidelines of government mandated curriculum.

    That said, yes, public schools in particular are probably really hard-pressed. They get more funding depending on the test results and placement of their students. Therefore, schools often push hard to get the students to have proper preparation for succeeding at those exams... and there just isn't the freedom to really challenge students the way we probably need.

    Can't blame educators. Can't really blame any one group. It's just sort of the way the education system is set up, no?
     
  4. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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  5. devilot Moderator emeritus

    devilot

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    It could... but funding issues have already cut a ton of other classes as well. Some schools have very little option in a foreign language, even honors classes for English/ Lit have been cut. Music and art classes as well. It doesn't surprise me that philosophy has been cut.

    Would we all benefit from such courses? Most likely. :eek: But it just seems so... unattainable. At least with the way things are structured now.
     
  6. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #6
    One of the first things we learned in college-level Philosophy class was the difference between a valid argument and an invalid one.

    A valid argument was defined, to put it simply, as one in which a conclusion was backed up by facts. You could have a valid argument on either side of an issue, as long as you could reasonably use objective facts A, B and C to support your assertion.

    I took that course two decades ago, but it still resounds with me, because nowadays we're lectured to so often by people whose arguments are based on manipulated "facts", or worse, cant and truthiness.

    So yeah, the sooner kids learn that whole concept, the better-equipped they'll be to avoid brainwashing by their parents, the media or the government. Heck, I'm not sure I'd even wait 'til high school. Middle school's a good place to start. Let 'em be exposed to a wide range of ideas and the concept of critical thinking.
     
  7. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #7
    No I do not think it should be taught in high school as a required course. I personally though it was a crappy course in college that I end up dropping and it is not a required class for me so I will never be taking again.

    philosophy to me is a bunch of useless crap that I could not give a damn about it and massively over rated.
     
  8. TheAnswer macrumors 68030

    TheAnswer

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    #8
    Depends what you mean by a philosophy course...I'd be for additional stressing critical thinking and logic across the curriculum, in the sciences and literature classes, but I'm not sure high school kids would appreciate a historical overview course at that point.
     
  9. yojitani macrumors 68000

    yojitani

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    #9
    I would certainly agree with this since the American High Schoolers I've met have been a profoundly uncritical lot on the whole.

    As for philosophy classes, I think you run the risk of responses like Rodimus Prime's being the norm if philosophy is taught as a kind of history of ideas to be memorized for some quiz or another. Also, philosophy syllabi run the risk of being mausoleums of dead white men's ideas - which would alienate all but a handful of students. That said, students should know the basics of Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Kant, and Mill (and possibly Nietzsche, Popper and Wittgenstein) since their ideas have been so crucial (not always in a positive sense) to the world over the last four hundred years. Perhaps if they were taught in history class??

    At some point students need to understand how their world is being 'read' so that they can, hopefully, learn the practical side of philosophy...
     
  10. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #10
    Depends. I'd say yes, and we could definitely use some critical thinking, but I also see a potential for abuse. What may start out as philosophy could easily turn into something religious. Certainly not a problem in and of itself, especially as an elective. But without strict guidelines, things could get messy and slide into some sort of forced religious debate that starts out innocent enough with vague hypotheses but ends with everybody pissed off and arguing about God, even those who are religious.

    (kinda like these threads) ;)
     
  11. MacAnkka macrumors regular

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    #11
    Here in Finland, one course of philosophy is mandatory in High School. I don't think there's anything special about it, at least it's more interesting than geology or something.

    I think in the new curriculum one course of psychology is mandatory, too.
     
  12. Kalns thread starter macrumors regular

    Kalns

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    #12
    What if it were a general philosophy course that were required and a Philosophy of Religion course were available as an elective? It just seems to me that we're exceedingly fearful of foreign ideas in America. Though I'd heard the names Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and DesCartes many times before, I wasn't until just recently aware of what they actually taught. And having learned it, I recognize that my education as a whole would have benefited greatly if I had been introduced to these ideas much earlier.
     
  13. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #13
    Lemmee guess. Engineer?
     
  14. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #14
    You run into the issue of qualifying students for that course. Philosophy is something that I don't expect most HS kids to be able to wrap their heads around (looking at the number that can't even read or write with basic English skills, let alone Hobbesian theory).

    A problem is that a lot of schools are getting stuck in either teaching to meet testing standards or to make sure that every kid can take every class. When teaching for test, the above-mentioned problem of extra classes being cut arises. When teaching to be inclusive, you disable the opportunity for true depth and understanding of the material. Either way, kids are getting screwed these days.

    As for my opinion? I think that having the class available with high, non-exemptable prereqs would be nice - which means no more than a couple of classes worth.
     
  15. davidjearly macrumors 68020

    davidjearly

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    #15
    You find philosophy more interesting than the study of sedentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks?

    :eek:
     
  16. Lyle macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #16
    Heh. I remember when, as an undergraduate Aerospace Engineering student, I took a Pyschology 101 type-class to satisy the "humanities/social sciences" part of my degree requirements. A few weeks into the class, my wife (who was an English Education major) excitedly asked me what I thought about it. She was extremely disappointed with me when I told her that I thought the class was easy and seemed like mostly common sense. :D

    But back to the topic at hand: I think I'm more in agreement with Thomas Veil and TheAnswer about it being more of a logic/critical thinking course.
     
  17. FleurDuMal macrumors 68000

    FleurDuMal

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    #17
    My English teachers at secondary school were barely qualified to teach me straight English, nevermind the philosophy of language, so I think that we should concentrate on improving teaching standards before broadening its range.

    Like it or not, educations role is primarily economic. We're more likely to be taught things that will help us create wealth, not question it. If philosophy teaches us to question everything, why would the state be wanting to teach us to question its own existence?
     
  18. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #18
    I kid engineers because I love. I was one for a while, until I switched to a more sensible major. Too many engineers that I knew just threw their hands up in the air over subjects like history, English, philosophy... Some of them admitted they didn't like these subjects because, more or less, they weren't any good at them. Others hid behind the shield of calling them stupid and useless. Others did fine in them but still thought they were useless..

    And of course many embraced the opportunity to learn something and think differently than they were accustomed to. I just think everyone can benefit from doing so. And no one benefits from throwing their hands up in the air. I'm equally disappointed by English major types who run and hide when math or science come up.
     
  19. Swarmlord macrumors 6502a

    Swarmlord

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    #19
    Hey! I'm an engineer and I took philosophy.

    I don't think it should be taught in high school though.
     
  20. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #20
    i had 1 year mandatory psychology(2h) and 1 year mandatory philosophy (2h)

    psychology was more interesting but philosophy was rather boring

    but we got other philosophical topics covered in other lectures like in german or history (7 years mandatory)

    i had only B in both but i didn't put any effort in it
     
  21. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #21
    hey I am an engineering student and I happen to like history. Now I do not like English so much not because I can not do it but because I just do not enjoy it. I got A's in my English classes with out to much of a problem and watch English major having trouble.
    Just philosophy I think it a crappy course and people will "win" arguments with ZERO scientific backing hell science can go against what they are saying but as long as it is in this one format everything is good and they are right. I have never seen a class room more full of complete idiots in my life. Another reason why I do not miss it.

    The philosophy majors I known I just stop paying any attention to them since they will make some stupid arguments claim that I am wrong about stuff I spent quite a bit of time studying and I know very well all because I do not put things in some BS format. Sp instead I make them look like complete full public when I get them trying to beat me down with me being wrong on some rather true facts normally around another engineers students who happen to know the infomation as well.
     
  22. princealfie macrumors 68030

    princealfie

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    #22
    Just teach yourself philosophy by reading the greats. I read Wittgenstein in high school and I didn't need a teacher for that.
     
  23. shu82 macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    I disagree with teaching philosophy in public school. And if it is even possible cost wise, it should only be an elective. I still have fond memories of going down to regular english for a bit, to slack a little, and a hairy gorilla of a woman asked the teacher what a verb was. This was 10th grade! Thank goodness all of those types dropped out at 16. Now try to get someone with a 4-year teaching degree to explain any philosophy to someone who can barely read. I went back to higher english the following semester and never looked back! Now if we were talking about a prep school like in dead poets society then yea, go for it. It is not like we are denying the knowledge (go to a library!), but it really is a class thing. Teaching the idiots to read and do simple math is a hard enough challenge. Philosophy!, I was just glad to have advanced classes to get me away from the general public in high school.

    Now why it should remain only an elective. Why should we trust the same people who show and test children on "An inconvenient truth". When I was in elementary school, we has science books that said we would be out of gasoline in 25 years. That was 20 years ago! Since when is this crap fact. It would be just an opportunity for socialists and communists that run the public school system to further indoctrinate the children!
     
  24. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #24
    Why are these things disappearing? NCLB baby. Gotta get those test scores up or Big Brother's gonna come and fire the teachers and take over the administration. As usual I must ask, what do you do about the kids who WANT to be left behind? Can't it be SCLB?
    I had to take an upper division English class at one point. I ended up taking it from a guy whom my wife had just taken as part of her English Masters Degree. He was a real hardass, and not particularly fond of people whose whole lives didn't revolve around "Deep Thoughts" about literature. Plus, when he found out who I was married to, he felt like he could push me even harder. I did end up with a B+, which apparently was a pretty good job for a non-English major. Of course, my wife had gotten an A from the guy, so I got no satisfaction at home... :p

    I've got no love of writing 25 pages or more on the finer points of Romantic literature or the parallels between the main character in "Deliverance" and Christ, I freely admit it. But of course, my wife says the same about a similar number of pages of structural analysis work... :D

    I think so too. Someone else mentioned that they didn't think kids should be taught it, but they should know the basics of several philosophers -- which is an entire class for HS kids already. But it would work well as an elective, particularly when taught by the right person.

    Standards are already high. Around here you must have a "highly qualified teacher" in every position -- of course there are ways to get around that temporarily to semi-permanantly -- but still, the standards are there. Unfortunately we can't seem to attract enough real talent and get rid of the deadwood.

    That's a pretty cynical view. And I don't even disagree that the primary role of education is economic, but just because there is a primary role doesn't mean there can't be secondary or tertiary roles.

    As long as it doesn't turn into a Philosophy of One Religion, right?

    You know, "the same people" have also tested children on the historical accuracies of The Bible... I think your brush is a little broad here. Socialists and Communists running the public school system? Please. There's a Christian conservative fascist nazi (since we're tossing these terms about so lightly) on every school board or in every community ready and eager to raise holy hell at a whiff of an actual communist.

    I take it you don't have much regular contact with public school officials or teachers? Rest assured, I know many many teachers and administrators. Many of them are indeed liberal, but I know of no Communists or Socialists.

    Or are you saying that anyone on the left is a Communist or Socialist?
     
  25. shu82 macrumors 6502a

    shu82

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    #25
    No, I just need to stay out of this section while I am at work.:eek: I do agree with pissed off me about the fact that we need to focus on the basics first, we could use the improvement from the bottom up. I need to stay in the hardware section until I get home and have a good meal and a stiff drink!
     

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