One of my lesser-known passions is the study of philosophy. Along with English, I double majored in Philosophy in college. I student-taught in an International Baccalaureate Philosophy class made up of 11th and 12th graders. I wrote my Master’s Thesis on methods for developing critical thinking skills in high school students, and one of the key methods I discussed was the study of philosophy. I work in a district that values thinking skills and habits of mind above nearly everything else.
I’m still a young, novice teacher, but one of my longer-term goals (alongside the goals mentioned in the last post) that I will begin to work toward this year is to find a place in our curriculum (currently, at the 8/9 levels) for some sort of philosophy course. I believe deeply that there needs to be a place for students to read about and discuss huge issues like knowledge, ethics, and humanity. I believe that the lack of this sort of study in K-12 education is at least in part responsible for the lack of knowledge, morality, and empathy that we see in our society. Needless to say, I value the study of philosophy a little more than most.
Obviously, there are some complications in getting a course like this approved, not limited to dealing with graduation requirements and credits, curriculum development, and how to categorize the course (social studies? language arts? elective?). However, it’s still a bit early to be worrying about these things.
What I am wondering at this point of my process is simple. I have two questions:
1. What is “philosophy” to you? Is that worth studying alongside literature, mathematics, history, and science?
2. If you teach philosophy in a K-12 school, how is your class structured? How are the credits arranged? What was the process of getting the course approved?