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Should Philosophy be an optional highschool credit






Should philosophy be a highschool option
yes
100%
 100%  [ 4 ]
no
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 4

captainsuperdude
I really think that it ought to be one, what about the rest of yall?
emanuel2
we had philosophy in grammar school together with psychology (in one combined class).
So I would say why not in high school. If you want some (tertiary ) education in humane science, its essential to have already some background knowledge in philosophy and its most important trends.
ocalhoun
It would be more useful than a lot of other classes... Especially if it partially focused on critical thinking skills.
Indi
Philosophy itself? Probably not.

Early education should be focused on creating a solid foundation to build later education on. It makes so sense to try to dump all of human knowledge, or even just a superficial scraping of all human knowledge, into a kid. In fact, superficially glossing over advanced topics can often do far more long-term damage than simply not teaching them at all (for example, creationists, homeopaths and conspiracy theorists who use elementary school level understanding of science to justify bad ideas, that more advanced understanding render void). It's better to give the kids a firm basis in language, mathematics and rational thinking - including learning skills - and simply tell them flat out "you understand nothing about science/philosophy/whatever... but these tools will help you learn some day." Not only is the time better spent on a good foundation, they will learn humility with their knowledge - something too many kids (and adults!) these days are lacking.

So philosophy itself? Nah. There should be probably a final-year review course that gives students a taste of everything - philosophy, science, engineering, math, art, etc. - so they have an idea of what those careers and programmes consist of, and can make more educated decisions when selecting university programmes. Granted, by the later years of high school, maybe there has already been enough foundation laid to begin trowelling on some real knowledge, so, maybe there is a place for a brief introduction to philosophy course.

However, the underlying meat of philosophy - logic and critical thinking skills - should certainly be taught, starting even before high school.
ocalhoun
Indi wrote:
and simply tell them flat out "you understand nothing about science/philosophy/whatever... but these tools will help you learn some day.

Not sure about this method of teaching... Not sure at all.
I think it's the imposition of ignorance as a good thing that irks me.

I think it would be better to teach them the basics, but emphasize that these are only the basics.
Ankhanu
I dunno, part of the beauty of science and philosophy teaching (at least in higher levels) is that it nicely demonstrates just how ignorant we are... and there is tremendous value in that. Of course, it takes a special sort of ego to really accept that, I don't think most people are prepared to accept that sort of imposition.
Indi
ocalhoun wrote:
Not sure about this method of teaching... Not sure at all.
I think it's the imposition of ignorance as a good thing that irks me.

It is not an "imposition" to tell someone just beginning to learn about a topic that they don't yet know anything about it. (An "imposition"??? How does that even make sense? i'm "imposing" reality on them, and ruining that happy little fantasy they had where they thought they had full understanding of the universe? What am i "imposing" on, exactly?)

In fact, if you're not telling them that, not only are you doing a lousy job as a teacher, you're actually lying to them.

Furthermore... where exactly did anyone say anything about saying that ignorance was a "good thing"? Saying "it exists" or "you have it" is not the same as saying "it's good".

Ankhanu wrote:
I dunno, part of the beauty of science and philosophy teaching (at least in higher levels) is that it nicely demonstrates just how ignorant we are... and there is tremendous value in that. Of course, it takes a special sort of ego to really accept that, I don't think most people are prepared to accept that sort of imposition.

You know... this kind of attitude always annoys me: the "oh, i can grasp this concept, but most people aren't ready to handle it" attitude. This always strikes me as incredibly arrogant and condescending; you see the value in admitting ignorance and assumedly have no problem accepting it, so why would you assume that most people can't handle something that you can?

The reality is that most people already have no problem accepting that there are many things that they are completely ignorant of; in fact, many people make a virtue of it, playing up their ignorance as cute, or folksy, or whatever. Nobody is "unprepared to accept" that they have no idea about the moons of Saturn (for example). They either don't care and move on, or they do care and try to find out. Go out and see for yourself - pick a random person and ask them about the moons of Saturn, and if they don't have a clue then straight out tell them that they don't have a clue, and see if they're really not "prepared to accept" that.

No, of course kids are "prepared to accept" that they don't know anything about advanced topics. They problem is not that they can't accept their ignorance - the problem is that they don't; no one ever makes them. The there is a culture in early education that it is more important to stroke the kids' egos than it is to give them a practical grounding in knowledge and reasoning. Now of course it's important to build up kids' confidence, but it is also important to teach them humility... but that's an unpopular thing to say. And note: there is a difference between humility and submission - there's no reason to teach kids to bow to authority, and certainly no need to teach them that they have to stay humble... all we need to teach them is that they are at the bottom of the knowledge ladder, but they can climb if they really want to. Or, if they choose not to, to remember where they are on the ladder, and - perhaps most importantly - how to get information from higher up without climbing up themselves.

Basically, the goal is to make sure that when the kid leaves your class (assuming it's a high-school or lower level class), this is their mindset:
  • i have only a very basic understanding of this topic.
  • With only my very basic understanding of this topic, i can easily be fooled by con artists who know how to make things sound plausible with my level of understanding, but a better understanding would show to be bunk.
  • If i want to learn more about this topic, i can.
  • If i choose not to, i have to accept that i'm ultimately ignorant about this topic.
  • If i'm required to know something about this topic, i can either take the time to learn it properly myself, or i can trust an expert.
  • An expert is someone who has dedicated themselves to learning about the topic, and has earned recognition among their peers as being very knowledgeable in the field, not just "someone who knows more about it than me".
If we could give kids this mindset, then perhaps we wouldn't have jackasses who read a few creationist tracts constantly harassing scientists with long-disproved fallacies, and we wouldn't have people learning about climate change issues from politicians and child health issues from Jenny McCarthy.
Ankhanu
I meant to suggest that it's a perspective thing, not related to facultative capability. You went on in a rant about the topic, but you repeated my intended meaning in the third paragraph. We're not on different pages here, Indi.
watersoul
I voted yes.
My early teenage son studies Philosophy & Applied Ethics at his school and I personally feel it has helped him consider many different issues in a much deeper way than simply X or Y are right or wrong. He will soon have the option to drop it as a subject or continue studying it until he's 18 at his current school, when he will then (hopefully) be deciding which university degree he wants to pursue.

Certainly in his lessons they actually encourage the notion that what they are learning is very basic, but the whole idea is to inspire a questioning mind which will not just accept a particular view without first exploring other mindsets/beliefs/opinions/theories/evidence etc.

They teach him the basics of the major religions and equally lessons on atheism and agnosticism - none of which is portrayed as the right or wrong path, the idea is more to get the students thinking for themselves and learning how to investigate or research what others think.
I would say that there could be a risk of a biased curriculum or teacher causing potential problems (creationism/evolution for example), but that hasn't happened in my sons school where the teaching style is 'some people think this, some people think that, you need to research these things yourself and decide what you think, and why'.

I like the benefits of this particular class for my lad as it opens his mind to why and what all the many folk might think around the world, in an unbiased way. He's even got a day trip next week where they're visiting a mosque in the morning and a synagogue in the afternoon.

I personally don't see why philosophy should be treated differently to any other subject, if it's delivered in the way I see in my sons case. It's not the 'holy grail' of academia where you must be of a certain age before you can even begin to understand basic principles or develop conceptual analysis skills. We all have to start with the basics in everything we learn and an early teaching of this (especially the use of rational argument) certainly helps when making the choice of subject one may wish to purse at an advanced level.
gandalfthegrey
Philosophy should be mandatory, along with healthy cooking classes, relationships 101, personal finances and other stuff more applicable to real life.
ocalhoun
Indi wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Not sure about this method of teaching... Not sure at all.
I think it's the imposition of ignorance as a good thing that irks me.

It is not an "imposition" to tell someone just beginning to learn about a topic that they don't yet know anything about it. (An "imposition"??? How does that even make sense? i'm "imposing" reality on them, and ruining that happy little fantasy they had where they thought they had full understanding of the universe? What am i "imposing" on, exactly?)

In fact, if you're not telling them that, not only are you doing a lousy job as a teacher, you're actually lying to them.

Furthermore... where exactly did anyone say anything about saying that ignorance was a "good thing"? Saying "it exists" or "you have it" is not the same as saying "it's good".

Saying "you're ignorant" okay.
Saying "you're ignorant, and I'm not going to teach you anything because it might give you ideas to the contrary" not okay.

I'm fine with telling them how ignorant they are... but not fine with intentionally making them ignorant.
Indi
ocalhoun wrote:
Saying "you're ignorant" okay.
Saying "you're ignorant, and I'm not going to teach you anything because it might give you ideas to the contrary" not okay.

I'm fine with telling them how ignorant they are... but not fine with intentionally making them ignorant.

Yeeeah... i'm not going to speculate on how you originally got from "... and simply tell them flat out "you understand nothing about science/philosophy/whatever... but these tools will help you learn some day...." to "the imposition of ignorance as a good thing"... let alone to "you're ignorant, and I'm not going to teach you anything because it might give you ideas to the contrary" or intentionally making kids ignorant.

But for the record, both of those are not okay.

The correct way to teach is not just to tell kids they're ignorant - that's hardly helpful, and in fact is a pretty terrible way to teach - but rather:

Saying "you're ignorant, but you can get over that if you want, and here's how"... that is okay.

Or, as i originally put it: "you understand nothing about science/philosophy/whatever... but these tools will help you learn some day."
ocalhoun
Indi wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Saying "you're ignorant" okay.
Saying "you're ignorant, and I'm not going to teach you anything because it might give you ideas to the contrary" not okay.

I'm fine with telling them how ignorant they are... but not fine with intentionally making them ignorant.

Yeeeah... i'm not going to speculate on how you originally got from "[i]...

Figured you were speaking against making it available:
Quote:
Philosophy itself? Probably not.

On closer inspection, that was not entirely the whole story... though you did seem pretty solidly against any full class specifically about philosophy.

--Skimming posts... makes the fail come easy.
Indi
ocalhoun wrote:
Figured you were speaking against making it available:
Quote:
Philosophy itself? Probably not.

On closer inspection, that was not entirely the whole story... though you did seem pretty solidly against any full class specifically about philosophy.

i'm not really against teaching philosophy. i'm just taking an extremely pragmatic position. When you're talking about a curriculum for kids, you are limited in a number of ways:
  • You're limited by the students' time - you only have a limited amount of time each day, and a limited number of days.
  • You're limited by the students' understanding - if you have to teach them something from scratch it's going to take a whole hell of a lot longer than if you're merely building on something they already know.
  • You're limited by the students' capability - sure some students will be ready for philosophy at high school level... but will the average student be ready? i think that's a bit of a stretch, and although you can technically teach anything at any level, provided you're willing to sacrifice understanding for rote, if they student's not ready, it's going to take a hell of a lot more time and resources to teach them than if they are.
  • You're limited by the students' attention - people can only digest so much new information in a given day before it starts to go in one ear and out the other, and if the students are already required to take classes in grammar, math, reasoning and communication, you don't really have a lot of space left over for more topics.
  • You're limited by your responsibility to the students - aside from the unfortunate fact that some of the students won't finish high school and others won't go beyond, you have to realize that your students aren't just in limbo till they graduate. They need useful training now, to be applied while they are still in school, as well as beyond. And they need as much of that practical knowledge as early as possible. You can't really waste time early in their education on esoteric, academic stuff - you would be short-changing them if you did that.

Given all those limitations, to hit them with philosophy early is doing them a disservice. There's simply no way to give them a sound introduction to real philosophy that early in their academic careers, because they simply don't have the grounding in things like comprehension and problem solving skills to handle it properly. Sure, you could teach them those things, but at what cost? What else on the curriculum are you going to sacrifice for it?

And to make matters worse, even if you could manage to devote a portion of their curriculum to philosophy - and make it work - you're not really helping them function in the real world. Yes, philosophy is grand, but the kids need to know how to balance a chequebook far more than they need philosophy. They need survival knowledge first... academic knowledge later. To give them philosophy too early is to take away something else they might sorely need to function in the modern world... effectively hurting them in the long run.

And even if you tried to water down philosophy to give the kids some kind of of "philosophy lite" that they can take in at their current level without too much effort... why? What do you really gain from that? What do they gain from that? Is it really worth the potential costs (such as kids being unprepared to handle the real world because the time that could have been spent teaching that stuff has been syphoned into "philosophy lite")?

No, it makes no sense whatsoever to sacrifice more core disciplines, like language, math and reasoning, along with knowledge required to function in modern society, for the sake of philosophy. Let it wait. Once they clear high school they are not only ready to dive into philosophy, they are past the preparation stage - which, really, is all high school is - and are ready to delve into more academic topics, because they will already have a firm, strong base to build on, and they will already be prepared to function in society. You can't have everything; you have to balance idealism with pragmatism, and build a lesson plan that gives the kid the very best chance at life at every stage - because you don't know if they're going to need pragmatic knowledge much younger than you'd think they should.
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