Why isn’t philosophy taught in schools?

 
Airy Spirit
 
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Airy Spirit
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04 March 2008 03:27
 

If young minds had access to philosophy, then wouldn’t there be less religion in the world?

But then, with philosphopy you have to think, and with religion you don’t.

 
 
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Carstonio
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04 March 2008 05:52
 

What kind of philosophy? Do you mean comparative philosophies?

 
 
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SkepticX
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04 March 2008 06:15
 

I’d like to see basic critical thinking skills taught in high school, maybe even earlier.

Problem is we’d have to find adults with the skills to teach the courses. Then again, that doesn’t hold us back in any other subjects.

Byron

 
 
 
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keith
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04 March 2008 07:01
 

If the rudiments of philosophy (for example, adherence to the principles of clear statement and the excluded middle in all cases where a genuine attempt at problem solving was desired) were to be taught at the effective level (starting from approx. age 7, to parallel our development of mature reason) then we would see an enormous positive change. Virtually all of the horror that we have been shrugging off for tens of thousands of years as ‘the human condition’ would dissipate. It would like awakening from a long nightmare. No government has ever seriously contemplated allowing this, because it would be antithetical to the irrational principles through which all have been maintaining their legitimacy.

BR,

Keith

 
Traces Elk
 
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Traces Elk
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04 March 2008 07:53
 

Even I, an inveterate sophophobe, can see the potential in this. What currently passes for science education is decidedly not. Society needs to do something for people incapable of playing golf like Tiger Woods or of sneaking to the top of media empires the like of Oprah Winfrey’s.

 
 
 
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Carstonio
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04 March 2008 08:44
 
Salt Creek - 04 March 2008 12:53 PM

Even I, an inveterate sophophobe

Fear of schooling or fear of learning?

Salt Creek - 04 March 2008 12:53 PM

sneaking to the top of media empires the like of Oprah Winfrey’s.

I have no fondness for Oprah or for Martha Stewart, whose egos are gravitational singularities. However, I don’t understand your “sneaking” comment. Can you elaborate?

[quote author=“keith”](for example, adherence to the principles of clear statement and the excluded middle in all cases where a genuine attempt at problem solving was desired)

That sounds too vague to me. Would you offer a specific example?

 
 
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burt
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04 March 2008 08:59
 
keith - 04 March 2008 12:01 PM

If the rudiments of philosophy (for example, adherence to the principles of clear statement and the excluded middle in all cases where a genuine attempt at problem solving was desired) were to be taught at the effective level (starting from approx. age 7, to parallel our development of mature reason) then we would see an enormous positive change. Virtually all of the horror that we have been shrugging off for tens of thousands of years as ‘the human condition’ would dissipate. It would like awakening from a long nightmare. No government has ever seriously contemplated allowing this, because it would be antithetical to the irrational principles through which all have been maintaining their legitimacy.

BR,

Keith

This may be a bit overly optimistic, but I agree with the point.  Too much of education today focuses on helping lazy students maintain their “self-esteme.”  Sometime in the past year I came across an essay by Dorothy Sayers from about 1948 promoting the idea that we need a modern version of the Medieval educational system.  In that system, she pointed out that the first things studied were grammar, logic, and rhetoric (the trivium): none of which were concerned with “content”: rather they dealt with: (1) how to make a coherent statement in language (grammar); (2) how to maintain consistency in ones statements (logic); and (3) how to make a rational argument.  Only after these had been studied did a student go on to content courses (the quadrivium).

 
The anti-theist
 
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The anti-theist
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04 March 2008 20:17
 

There is a high school in Queeensland, Australia, that teaches philosophy in years 9-12 and the kids love it. It teaches critical thinking and goes through basic logic and reason. It helps prepare the students for real life. The kids can’t get enough of it. It’s only taught in a private school though. No public system would touch it.

There was an interview on the ABC radio on the Philosiphers zone, a weekly radio show. Look it up at http://www.abc.net.au

Dom

 
 
Airy Spirit
 
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Airy Spirit
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04 March 2008 23:45
 

Thanks very much The anti-theist. I wonder why the public school system won’t touch it?

It would be good if Julia Gillard brought in philosophy as a compulsory school subject.  I might email her about it.

There used to be a British program on television, I think it was the ABC, which examined philosophy, and the presenter was some-one by the name of Alain de Bouton or something like that.

 
Airy Spirit
 
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Airy Spirit
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04 March 2008 23:46
 
Carstonio - 04 March 2008 10:52 AM

What kind of philosophy? Do you mean comparative philosophies?

I don’t know. Any kind of philosophy.  I suppose they could start with the simple stuff and work their way up.

 
The anti-theist
 
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The anti-theist
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05 March 2008 00:01
 
Airy Spirit - 05 March 2008 04:45 AM

Thanks very much The anti-theist. I wonder why the public school system won’t touch it?

It would be good if Julia Gillard brought in philosophy as a compulsory school subject.  I might email her about it.

As an elective High school subject I think it would be a great idea. It could replace some other useless program that the students don’t really want to do and don’t have to pass to pass, if you get my meaning.

I mean they teach critical thinking and PDHPE in primary school but that is such a waste of time. Primary school should be for the 3 R’s.

Dom

 
 
 
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Carstonio
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05 March 2008 07:28
 
Airy Spirit - 05 March 2008 04:46 AM

I don’t know. Any kind of philosophy.  I suppose they could start with the simple stuff and work their way up.

My concern is that I have heard few definitions of philosophy that didn’t amount to “religion lite,” vague metaphysical notions of “something greater than ourselves.”

 
 
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Carstonio
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05 March 2008 07:29
 
The anti-theist - 05 March 2008 01:17 AM

There is a high school in Queeensland, Australia, that teaches philosophy in years 9-12 and the kids love it. It teaches critical thinking and goes through basic logic and reason. It helps prepare the students for real life.

Critical thinking about what? Basic logic and reason about what? Aren’t those simple problem-solving skills used in math and science?

 
 
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Traces Elk
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05 March 2008 07:31
 

Philosophy isn’t science. I should have thought this would be obvious.

Because of this, there are schools of philosophy, and schools of what is considered proper reasoning. One may learn a set of rules for arguing, but when you are arguing about the kinds of things that philosophers tend to argue about, there tends not to be any convergence. Philosophy is the history of invalid approaches to understanding the world. Yes, it is important to study history, so as not to make the same mistakes more than a few times.

A good introduction to basic scientific methodology teaches people to respect evidence, to avoid too much reliance on one’s intuitions in what is considered evidence, and to appreciate economy in the explanation of phenomena based on evidence.

 
 
 
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Carstonio
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05 March 2008 08:11
 
Salt Creek - 05 March 2008 12:31 PM

Philosophy isn’t science. I should have thought this would be obvious.

Obvious in the general sense. But how are you defining philosophy? Is there a definition of philosophy that doesn’t try to redefine the physical universe?

Salt Creek - 05 March 2008 12:31 PM

One may learn a set of rules for arguing, but when you are arguing about the kinds of things that philosophers tend to argue about, there tends not to be any convergence.

What do philosophers argue about? I’m leery of any philosophy that uses argument to try to to establish the existence of gods or other supernatural beings. That question must be addressed through the scientific methodology that you mentioned.

 
 
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burt
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05 March 2008 09:01
 
Carstonio - 05 March 2008 12:29 PM
The anti-theist - 05 March 2008 01:17 AM

There is a high school in Queeensland, Australia, that teaches philosophy in years 9-12 and the kids love it. It teaches critical thinking and goes through basic logic and reason. It helps prepare the students for real life.

Critical thinking about what? Basic logic and reason about what? Aren’t those simple problem-solving skills used in math and science?

No, critical thinking is a subject on its own.  It involves things like how to break down an argument so as to identify hidden assumptions, how to make a rational argument, how to identify non-rational appeals to emotion, etc.  The Center for Critical Thinking at Sonoma State University in California runs a conference every summer devoted to critical thinking and how to teach it at different levels in the school system.