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What are the arguments for and against philosophy in high school?

Philosophy is seen as a dead science. However, how can we ignore the prevalence of philosophy in history. Whether it be the philosophy of science, language, or history, there has always been philosophical inquiry except near the middle of the twentieth century.

Should philosophy be taught at the high school level? Should there be a mandatory or elective class for philosophy? What are the merits of philosophy in High School? What are the draw back of teaching philosophy in high school?


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    Aug 13 2012: I do not think it would be appreciated in high school. It would probably be reduced to memorizing a bunch of names and dates simply because the adolescent brain has not yet developed judgment to it's full capacity.

    When young people can begin to anticipate the long term effects of actions and how their own agency comes in to play is when philosophy should be taught. That usually does not happen until the early 20's.
    • Aug 13 2012: Thanks for your reply, I do agree if it was taught like a memorization of names and dates it would be pointless. However, I know English Literature Courses do get a bit philosophical--especially when discussing social issues.

      I wonder, why not teach Socrates or Aristotle to better development reflection and good judgement?
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        Aug 13 2012: Because it is like teaching someone to read who has no eyes. The area of the brain responsible for judgment is simply not yet developed. See page two of this document for a quick summary:
        • Aug 13 2012: Thank you for engaging in the debate. We may not be able to teach someone to read with the eyes if he is blind, but we can teach him to read with his hands--braille. The point being, rarely is someone unable to learn. Instead, we adjust to their abilities and strengths.

          I know in a debate it is never good to get personal, but I read philosophy at a young age--around nine or ten. I know I am a better person because of it. When I taught Catechism, I taught Socratic principles and the children understood. I assume they are better for it.

          I am always wary of the study of neuroscience. It is too deafening to know love is something like sound which develops and deteriorates with age.
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          Aug 14 2012: Linda listen to the second podcast in my post above. Yes, the level of thought is not fully developed, but the kids are engaged in the socratic method. They are using higher order thinking skills appropriate for their age. Just because someone can't yet understand all the implications of Kantian ethics, does not mean you can't begin to develop thinking skills on a philosophical level. Challenge the kids. Don't dumb down to meet the lowest common denominator.
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        Aug 13 2012: I understand and agree high school students can learn philosophy and they can read philosophy. But they are not developmentally ready to really understand philosophy. Even if it is in braille.

        Content, any content, is best learned when the pupil is developmentally ready to understand. You cannot teach hypothetical concepts to a young child but you can tell concrete stories. I really would hate to have philosophy reduced to stories.

        This is basic childhood development. They may be able to apply it later on in life if they learn it young, but why teach before they are ready?
        • Aug 13 2012: That's a good point. Thanks for entering the debate.
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        Aug 13 2012: Good question.

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