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Will the teaching of Philosophy in schools create a better society?


gcarth e2
10 2.3k 1 United Kingdom
17 Mar 2010 11:27AM
For many years I have felt that philosophy should be compulsory in all schools because it would create a better educated and more enlightened society.
Now, I'm not quite so optimistic. I think I was probably a bit naive and over-simplistic.
Surely, so much depends on how philosophy is interpreted - or allowed to be interpreted...

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brian1208 e2
11 10.6k 12 United Kingdom
17 Mar 2010 12:00PM
For many years I thought that schools should provide education so that we would have better educated and enlightened future generations - but now we have "Exam Factories" instead I am convinced I was mistaken (:

(so you are not alone gcarth)
montechoro 12 2.3k 2 United Kingdom
17 Mar 2010 12:20PM
There are many hundreds of teenagers leaving school today who are unable to fill out the most basic job application forms because, at the start of their adult working life, they struggle to read or write.

Too many targets - too little teaching.
gcarth e2
10 2.3k 1 United Kingdom
17 Mar 2010 12:26PM

Quote:For many years I thought that schools should provide education so that we would have better educated and enlightened future generations - but now we have "Exam Factories" instead I am convinced I was mistaken (:

(so you are not alone gcarth)

Yes: I agree about the exam factories and I, naively perhaps, thought philosophy might be an antidote to this sort of practice.
Then I was rather shaken how many powerful but evil or dangerous figures, past and present, History professed to have read philosophy. Sad
However, I still support the introduction of philosophy into schools at secondary school level but I now have more modest expectations...!
gcarth e2
10 2.3k 1 United Kingdom
17 Mar 2010 12:36PM

Quote:There are many hundreds of teenagers leaving school today who are unable to fill out the most basic job application forms because, at the start of their adult working life, they struggle to read or write.

Too many targets - too little teaching.

Yep. I suppose philosophy, for many at least, has to take a back seat in the face of that reality.
I would make the "philosophical" point that the whole culture of unrealistic or unimportant targets throughout modern British life (and American, no doubt) is an awful scourge on our society.
montechoro 12 2.3k 2 United Kingdom
17 Mar 2010 1:04PM
I am totally with you on the introduction of philosophy into secondary schools but in conjunction with this - a lot more needs to be done for those who still struggle with reading and writing at 17 years of age.

The culture in the classroom of pandering to the lowest common denominator and developing a culture where "winners" no longer exist and the word "failure" is replaced by the expression "You just haven't succeeded yet" defies belief.

Once they exit the sheltered and protected education system, reality kicks in.
gcarth e2
10 2.3k 1 United Kingdom
17 Mar 2010 1:59PM

Quote:a lot more needs to be done for those who still struggle with reading and writing at 17 years of age.

Yes. I agree: learning to read and write properly should be given the first priority.
I also agree with you on the rather fashionable denial that there are no winners and losers (even though I seem to be a bit of a liberal leftie!)
I reckon it is important that we allow individuals to grow up and learn to accept failure and adversity. However, I think it is equally crucial to support people who do fail by reassuring them that either they should keep trying or try something else that they can do.
As you say, the present system doesn't prepare kids for the nasty real world!
I think one problem is that success in terms of getting "a good job" is too narrowly defined. I think any job is a good job if it is done well and is contributing to society's well-being. I suppose really we need to move away from our obsession with status and the rather puerile identification and assessment of an individual by their occupation.
I feel I'm drifting a bit from the topic here but I suppose these things are all connected.
Maybe simple empathy with others (along with the three R's) is what needs to be taught in schools, regardless of whether or not philosophy is formally taught?
ade_mcfade e2
10 15.1k 216 England
17 Mar 2010 2:41PM
I was never taught philosophy and at school age, I probably would not have been that interested were it optional.

But yeah - why not, if philosophy makes play-ground confrontations turn into rational debates rather than fist fights, then it's got to be a winner Smile
gcarth e2
10 2.3k 1 United Kingdom
17 Mar 2010 3:19PM

Quote:I was never taught philosophy and at school age, I probably would not have been that interested were it optional.

But yeah - why not, if philosophy makes play-ground confrontations turn into rational debates rather than fist fights, then it's got to be a winner Smile

Yes, if only Smile

Sociology was popular years ago but it seems to have faded out a bit.
I'm still interested in Sociology, probably because it can so easily be tied in so naturally with philosophy. The trouble is, I suppose, it's easier to slide into prejudice when teaching Sociology whereas Philosophy, almost by definition, is supposed to be an antidote to bias and bigotry. It depends how these things are taught, I suppose.
brian1208 e2
11 10.6k 12 United Kingdom
17 Mar 2010 3:44PM
Teaching Philosophy properly is probably too academically demanding a subject for most pupils (and teachers come to that Wink ) so there would be a real risk of it turning into social science and politics at the "Pub" level?
ade_mcfade e2
10 15.1k 216 England
17 Mar 2010 3:44PM
Mainly for my benefit... WIKI's definition...


Quote:Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.[1][2] It is distinguished from other ways of addressing fundamental questions (such as mysticism, myth, or the arts) by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.[3] The word "Philosophy" comes from the Greek φιλοσοφία [philosophia], which literally means "love of wisdom".


The OP mentions that


Quote:Surely, so much depends on how philosophy is interpreted - or allowed to be interpreted...


Well if you go from the definition above, and use a systematic and rational approach, does that avoid issues around interpretation?

I dunno...

As BT said - it's good to talk, and sometimes beer helps Wink
gcarth e2
10 2.3k 1 United Kingdom
17 Mar 2010 4:34PM

Quote:Well if you go from the definition above, and use a systematic and rational approach, does that avoid issues around interpretation?

Well, yes but I suppose the problem is that many subjects don't lend themselves entirely to the "systematic and rational approach". I mean, take the subject of "Does God exist?". Philosophy does tease out all of the arguments for and against systematically and rationally but it also fails to come to a definite conclusion.
Personally, however, I find Philosophy has helped to reinforce my aethistic views - though I still can't prove there is no God. Doh! Wink
And yes, its good to talk - and beer helps (of course remembering Aristotle's doctrine of moderation or Golden Mean!) - look at that great street philosopher, Rab Nesbitt. Wink

Quote:Teaching Philosophy properly is probably too academically demanding a subject for most pupils (and teachers come to that Wink ) so there would be a real risk of it turning into social science and politics at the "Pub" level?
I think you might be right. I'm in the middle of reading an Advance Level book on Philosophy in the current curriculum: Believe me, some of it seems like reading at degree level...SadWink
brian1208 e2
11 10.6k 12 United Kingdom
17 Mar 2010 5:21PM
I enjoyed sociology & psychology as a"post-education" study but rapidly gave up on Philosophy (maybe I would have found it easier at the "Pub Level"? Smile )

Good luck with your reading Garth!
gcarth e2
10 2.3k 1 United Kingdom
17 Mar 2010 6:27PM

Quote:I enjoyed sociology & psychology as a"post-education" study but rapidly gave up on Philosophy (maybe I would have found it easier at the "Pub Level"? Smile )

Good luck with your reading Garth!

Thanks, Brian. I've come to the conclusion that advanced Philosophy is used too much for academic gymnastics rather than for any practical purpose. Or maybe I'm just thick SadWink All I know is that I can follow the arguments as presented in most philosophy books but not in others and yet they are all written by philosophers or lecturers in philosophy.
I think there is a need for a more basic study of philosophy i.e. at 'O' level and a slightly more accessible version of 'A' level than the one I have been reading!
brian1208 e2
11 10.6k 12 United Kingdom
17 Mar 2010 6:49PM
Maybe its the difference between "Rational Thought" and "Philosophical Thought"

Rationality is a practical tool which can be applied to real life situations and the other is a "Meta-language" for trying to understand the basis and processes of rational thought (perhaps?)

I've long thought schools should spend some time on introducing youngsters to Rational and Creative thinking (and believe there was an attempt to do something on these lines a few years back?)

(It was something I spent a fair bit of effort on, introducing the concepts to R&D scientists and technicians in my last 10 years of work, but its really a bit late by then)

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