TED Conversations

Erik Richardson

Teacher, Richardson Ideaworks, Inc.


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Why is philosophy so commonly taught in prestigious private prep schools and yet so rarely taught in public schools?

The ideal of a critical, reflective thinker which has driven the tradition of the liberal arts education seems to have a well-recognized and appreciated value in the hallways where the sons and daughters (etc.) of senators and governors and so on are sent. If the ability to read about and discuss and evaluate complex arguments on deep issues like justice and ethics is important to the education of future leaders, why, then, is it not voted in and funded as part of the education for public school students?


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    Sky F

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    Apr 22 2011: I heard an idea being tossed around before that we should outlaw private schools. The idea is that the rich are removed from the education system, and thus are able to let it rot, while meanwhile at private schools they have relatively intimate contact with the entire "school system" (because it is one school) and therefore are a whole lot more empowered to improve their child's education.

    The separation of the two just seems to lead to the growing divide you illustrate in this paragraph. Public school is becoming a joke and private school is more in line with reality (which is only getting more and more competitive.)

    Any thoughts on this?
    • Apr 22 2011: I wonder if instead of outlawing private schools, maybe we should outlaw public schools and run the entire system based on the private school model.
      The entire school system piece is intriguing. It would be worth diving into that.
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        Sky F

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        Apr 23 2011: So the rich get the best education? Eh...
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      Apr 22 2011: Sky, see my comment about segregated communities. Don't know why it didn't post as a reply. Alas.

      Robert, see same comment. It is unclear how a fully private school system would work any better, as the ability to set prices to exclude most of the current public school kids would create a similar (or worse!) system.

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