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Why aren't students taught philosophy when they're in grades k-12?

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posted on Sep, 28 2008 @ 02:05 PM
I honestly think students in the grades from k-12 should be taught philosophy. I've learned a great deal since I started to study philosophy. I've learned how to think in a much better way, I have more of a descriptive vocabulary for explaining things, and it is easier for me to understand truths.

I don't see why young students shouldn't be taught philosophy. It would make them more educated and more willing to learn.

If students have no way of thinking about what they're learning they will not be able to learn what they are being taught successfully.

posted on Sep, 28 2008 @ 02:45 PM
The brain has to be ready to handle the concepts presented in philosophical thought. A lot of human beings never develop a brain that is capable of thinking so abstractly and college is probably the best place to study philosophy as a discipline.

This does not mean that early education is devoid of philosophy. The religious traditions are also rich in philosophy, so in reality philosophy is all around us from a very early age.

The question is whether or not the seeds of truth find fertile ground in which to grow.

posted on Sep, 28 2008 @ 03:20 PM
I'm a philosophy major and I'd like to see a logic class or intro to philosophy class be required in high school. The sad reality is that most people don't know how to think logically. Nor do they really comprehend most fallacies.

But my one beef with philosophy is that the deeper I've gotten into it, the harder it is to find truths. Great arguments can be made for each side of most issues, and there is no obvious truth. I got into philosophy hoping to solve life's mysteries, but it has left me wanting.


posted on Sep, 28 2008 @ 03:22 PM
reply to post by GradyPhilpott

I agree that the mind has to be mature enough to handle the concepts of philsophy. A great many religions teach philosophical concept to 5 and 6 year olds in Sunday School or religion classes. The real reason philosophy is not taught in American schools is that a great many would say their children were being taught religion, while others would say their children are being indocrinated against religion.

posted on Sep, 28 2008 @ 07:05 PM
reply to post by midniteracerx

I'm a philosophy major and I'd like to see a logic class or intro to philosophy class be required in high school. The sad reality is that most people don't know how to think logically. Nor do they really comprehend most fallacies.

I really like this idea. "Logic" and "Introduction to Philosophy" classes could be very beneficial if included in school curriculums. Unfortunately, I doubt we'll ever see this on a broad scale.

posted on Sep, 28 2008 @ 07:34 PM
reply to post by Romantic Rights

Warning! The following is the opinion of a crazy preschool teacher

No it probably won't be part of a high school curriculum because I don't believe the government is genuinely interested in creating individuals capable of thinking for themselves. Lucky for me, I teach preschool in a private program where I'm more free to educate children.

posted on Sep, 28 2008 @ 10:23 PM
reply to post by midniteracerx

So, you teach philosophy to pre-schoolers?

Is that four and five year olds?

I'm just curious, because usually at that age, kids are still pretty concrete.

posted on Sep, 28 2008 @ 10:31 PM
I would like to see an Intro to Philosophy as an option for high school too. I don't think it should be required, and I do agree that below that age most kids are going to be too young to take anything away from it.

posted on Sep, 28 2008 @ 10:39 PM
I love philosophy. However, I think that if such things are implemented, it should just be an intro to philosophy. I think logic and such is much too advanced for the typical 15 year old mind. Hell, I think it's too advanced for the typical thirty year old mind.

posted on Sep, 29 2008 @ 12:09 PM
Short answer? Because schools don't want you to actually THINK, they want you to be sheeple.

posted on Sep, 29 2008 @ 08:05 PM
Logic and intellectual thought will actually be against what they want you to do. They train you to work the system, like you run the system as your an adult, then you die in the system, its as simple as that.

It is simply appalling the lessening amount of creativity, writing, and actually skill that is taught in schools, its terrible.

They designed it this way: When your in the system, you cannot question it, when your working for the system, your too brain washed to comprehend it.

posted on Sep, 30 2008 @ 05:49 PM

Originally posted by SpeakerofTruth
I love philosophy. However, I think that if such things are implemented, it should just be an intro to philosophy. I think logic and such is much too advanced for the typical 15 year old mind. Hell, I think it's too advanced for the typical thirty year old mind.

Once again my friend, I agree with you

With so many broad strokes in the subject of "philosophy" it would be difficult to focus on anything in particular.

A general introduction into the subjects involved and the basic concepts would serve a greater purpose for those hungry minds in stimulating them to naturally consider their individual lives and thoughts from new perspectives.

A natural enhancement to all their learning processes and abilities, not the study of "niches". I'm sure this would lead to problems with already insecure and peer pressured pupils.

And never mind the grade, it should be in all education but let them choose their own paths and "niches". It's better to search than to run!

philosophy....not rules, not instructions, not definitions, but a constantly changing attempt at understanding the truth behind knowledge.

Or is that called a school?

And who owns most schools?

And which philosophy would they teach and how?

[edit on 30/9/2008 by nerbot]

posted on Sep, 30 2008 @ 06:19 PM
I think simple philosophy could be taught to children. Sure you arent going to be using all the terminology, but the some of the principles behind the terminology could be taught. Noam Chomsky has said that if you understand a thing well, you can use very simple language to express it, and those that rely on complexity to convey something generally speaking are not really understanding it themselves. I tend to believe him. I certainly noted that in my philosophy courses.

I think children of a quite young age would benefit from a class in critical thinking, where rather than being given information to memorize, they are guided through the process of problem solving and reasoning through and asking questions that can lead to answers. Which is the core lesson in all of Plato's works in my opinion. Plato wrote a course in critical thinking, he was not trying to give you answers, but rather ignite in you the art of questioning, of reasoning itself. The act of the teacher questioning the child in a guided way is, in my mind, the very best lesson.

Children could also be taught, say with colored blocks and hoops, what it means to be included in a group or not, which could later be used in logic. I can think of lots of philosophical concepts that could be imparted to young minds. A foundation could be laid upon which to build step by step as the child gets older and can handle more complexity.

Like Plato, I believe that some minds, regardless of age, are simply not suited for philosophy as a career. That individual was not designed by nature or inclination to be a philosopher. I do not think age alone is the determining factor. But I think all minds can benefit from learning to question, to reason, to whatever degree nature has suited them.

However, I also agree with those who have stated that critical thinking is not what school is designed or intended to impart. Unthinking obedience is. Absorption rather than discovery. Getting past that hurdle in my opinion is the real problem, not designing a course age appropriate for younger minds.

[edit on 30-9-2008 by Illusionsaregrander]

posted on Sep, 30 2008 @ 06:20 PM
reply to post by SpeakerofTruth

Well, for most. I'm 14, and I, for one, thoroughly enjoy philosophy. (Philosophy teachers, however, are apparently pretentious and silly. Though, philosophy itself is very fun.)

15, and even 13 year old minds should be ready for philosophy, even if it's just an introduction. I remember Religious Studies in year 7 (when I lived in England, and after that year I moved to the US wherein I was introduced ever-so-kindly to Virginian public schools) was very fun.

Although, simply teaching the concepts isn't enough, in my opinion. Class debates should be encouraged and done often (or at least more than twice a year). And really, I sometimes find that it's also interesting to converse with the teacher over various matters, and as such, should the teachers be allowed to state their own opinion, so long as it is made very clear that it is their own opinion and the students are free to believe what they wish?

However, as far as I've seen in my little section of the US, it's not that students are incompetent and are completely unable to think outside of the box. I just think that it's because they were raised, both by society, their parents, and school, to conform to the majority belief. However, if education were tinkered with in such a way to allow open thinking (like, in maths, teaching the theory behind the formula as well as the formula, and also encouraging students to come up with other methods of solving problems instead of telling them off for "not following directions", and yes this happened and yes I was angry that the teacher wouldn't accept that I had just found a far less complex way to solve the equation because I was the only one in class who had been taught the underlying concept of the subject AAARRRGH). Kids here aren't used to thinking at their full potential, and they've convinced themselves that doing such is impossible. It might also be because of laziness, perhaps, but either way, there still is an unwillingness to even bother considering anything outside of American Idol and FOOTBAAAALL.

Erm. What I meant to say was, people need to have the ability to think for themselves, and whilst I believe that American kids DO have the ability, I also think that they either are not used to or do not want to access it. They never find a need, but when they do come across something that requires them to think without using the school-taught processes, they feel that they can't since they're just not used to it. AS SUCH, education should make it that they ARE used to it. That, and having class debates on subjects would be fun.

Also, I've noticed that our English teachers, at least for 7th, 8th, and 9th grade, don't leave much room for creating stories, characters, &c. Creativity in general. Then again, I suppose that there's electives for that.

But... maybe the open debates should be, rather than solely from X grade onwards, taught (at least to a reasonable extent) throughout the school system.

But disregard me, I'm young, inexperienced, and probably have no idea about what I just wrote.

posted on Sep, 30 2008 @ 06:27 PM
As a philosophy grad I can think of reasons that they do not have it in K-12 schools. If you think about it there are a lot of students in those grades that can't even pass English. If you can't pass that, we all know that philosophy would be a bust. Perhaps they should consider creating some advanced placement classes that offer philosophy for college credit. There are student that would be able to handle the extensive reading and writing that would be involved in such a class.

Does anyone know if they teach it at private institutions?

posted on Sep, 30 2008 @ 06:39 PM
I'm not sure how it works in all high schools, but the high school in which I attended allowed seniors to take college classes (any college freshman course offered at our local community college) and earn credit for high school and college credit simultaneously.

That said, my mother is a high school teacher and she asked her children the other day what their philosophical views on business ethics were (she teaches career management, so although this isn't in her criteria she thought the kids should know about it) and the students had no idea what philosophy even was.

I'm majoring in Philosophy myself and every time an adult or a peer/friend asks me my major and I respond, I get a weird "What? Why?!" look on their faces. Friends usually tell me that they can't imagine anything more boring than to sit down and think about things (this is true!) that "don't matter." Adults typically tell me I can't ever get a job with that degree (like that's my main goal in life, to get rich! HAH

I think it's just a vast majority of people are much more content with going through mundane routine like robots than they are about actualy knowledge and contemplation.

They say I should be more concerned with money, power, fame, and respect....I say to hell with that, I want reason and truth!

posted on Sep, 30 2008 @ 06:41 PM

Originally posted by LiquidTheBrit0
But disregard me, I'm young, inexperienced, and probably have no idea about what I just wrote.

Lol. Good for you. I think your post speaks for itself.

I think the problem is that many people assume that because a thing is hard for them it must be hard for everyone.

I disagree. I look at minds individually. I have met some very young children who ask absolutely profound questions. I think the part of what you are saying above, that young minds are often disregarded, is really the key.

Children are often disregarded because in some cases they are so young that they have not yet memorized all the impressive labels and terms that many spout to make themselves look intelligent. If one is really listening to them, you can hear the reasoning behind their question, despite their limited terminology.

Mastering the labels and terminology of philosophy is not the important part, in my mind. In fact, memorizing another persons philosophy at all is not the important part. There was a young man on this board who proposed to the community a philosophical discovery made famous by Sartre. Why is that impressive? He was around your age and had never even heard of Sartre. Sartre may have been credited for the thought first, but that young mind found that conclusion independently. He had not yet taken the point and condensed it into an elegant statement, but he clearly was in the process of doing so. He was reaching for words and terms only, he had the core of the matter already in his mind.

To me, that is the real heart of philosophy. The art of questioning. Reasoning itself. Not memorizing the works of others. If you are of a philosophical bent, you can discover them on your own.

posted on Sep, 30 2008 @ 06:51 PM
reply to post by Illusionsaregrander

I completely agree with you. I spoke with the parents a 5 year old a month or two ago and they said that their daughter asked them how could God be so good and let Satan be so evil? The girl had come up with that completely on her own, she would not have heard that during her pre-school Sunday School class nor did her parents ever mention that. Things like this really show how capable someone's mind can be even at remarkably young ages.

The option should no doubt be available for high school students...I would have gone to class more often had I had the option of a Philsophy class during high school, that's for sure.

posted on Sep, 30 2008 @ 07:13 PM
No I don't teach philosophy to preschoolers. Although I'm sure there are some things they could understand, its not developmentally appropriate. One of my philosophy professors has a 4 year old girl and he talks philosophy with her. Deep metaphysical stuff too. And she gets some of it.

I've had some 4 year olds approach me with very deep philosophical questions. Unfortunately I can't get into a discussion on god with them because its not my place. I have to pawn it off on mom or dad haha. But I'm encouraged that they are taking the time to think about things that most adults wouldn't question. I must be doing something right

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