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Students Get Philosophical

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Did you know that in Colombia all high school students are required to take two years of philosophy? Students in that South American country take a yearlong course in the history of philosophy and another yearlong course in logic.

I learned that while reporting on how a private family foundation, the Squire Family Foundation, has established a mission of expanding offerings in philosophy and ethics in precollegiate education in the United States. My story was posted yesterday at edweek.org.

In the United States, philosophy offerings in K-12 schools are not that common. The College Board doesn't offer philosophy as part of its Advanced Placement program, for example. One of the biggest providers of the class is the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University, a summer program for gifted and talented students. About 1,000 students take philosophy classes with that program every year.

I observed a logic class while reporting the article. The teacher and students discussed how to structure arguments that are well supported. I had the feeling while sitting in on the class that I would have benefited from taking a similar logic class during high school, since I ended up eventually becoming a writer. I still sometimes struggle with the structure of articles, how to best lay out generalizations and strong evidence to support them.

By the way, the Squire Family Foundation, through the American Philosophical Association, is inviting teachers who are teaching philosophy or want to teach it in high schools to form a national network to support each other.

The network is called PLATO.

1 Comment

This is a great article that shows that pre-college students love philosophy. I just wanted to alert you to the fact that many of us are already teaching philosophy in elementary school. My book, BIG IDEAS FOR LITTLE KIDS: TEACHING PHILOSOPHY THROUGH CHILDREN'S LITERATURE (Rowman and Littlefield Education) explains how to use children's picture books to lead philosophical discussions with elementary school children, something I have been actively involved in doing for over a decade. And it's not just "smart kids" who love philosophy. I work with so-called underprivileged second graders in an inner-city charter school, and they get really involved in thinking such philosophical issues as the nature of courage and whether things have essential properties! I encourage everyone who is interested in philosophy and young children to visit my website: teachingchildrenphilosophy.org and to contact me about it.

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