Let no one when young delay to study philosophy, nor when he is old, grow weary of his study. For no one can come too early or too late to secure the health of his soul. And the man who says that the age for philosophy has either not yet come or has gone by is like the man who says that the age for happiness is not yet come to him…
– Epicurus, “Letter to Menoeceus
As I mentioned in the last post, I’m reading a really cool book called Little Big Minds, which talks about doing philosophy with children. The chapter I just finished was especially good because it was on happiness – a subject I’ve written about before. One of the philosophers the author cites is Epicurus, an Athenian thinker. The above quote by him sums up one of my strong feelings about K-12 education right now – where’s the philosophy?
I would (and did, in fact, in my Master’s thesis) argue that philosophy is one of the most important subjects students can study, yet is glaringly absent from schools. While we demand that students be great thinkers and intelligent citizens, we omit the field of study that would most profoundly affect those changes. In a sense, we in the education system, are largely culpable for students’ lack of thinking and empathy skills because we are omitting the subject that teaches them.
Moreover, Epicurus argues that philosophizing – “doing” philosophy – is the key to a happy life. Many others, including Plato and Cicero, would concur (I have quotes to back that up if you like). Of course, that’s just my own trivial opinion.