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The case for teaching kids philosophy

The case for teaching kids philosophy

Noting the deep ideological polarization of our time, writer Steve Neumann argues that the party primaries provide perfect examples of why we need to teach children philosophy; the Washington Post presents his essay as an argument in favor of bringing back philosophy before we increase the focus on computer sciences and other STEM disciplines.

Neumann is mostly concerned with teaching students how to think, not what to think; he isn’t proposing in-depth explorations of philosophical frameworks or teaching students what to think. He invokes Socrates to explain the real aim of philosophical education.

From the essay:

The focus is on asking questions because philosophy, as Socrates said, begins in wonder. We don’t just ask ourselves questions—we ask others, those who make up our society.

Neumann argues that children are more malleable than adults, and that this type of education will help raise a generation which is more open-minded and less rigid than we currently are, noting that people are so entrenched in their views now that they aren’t listening when we discuss politics or ideas.

Do you share his concern that we’re teaching children how to make a living, but not how to live? Do you think that a movement away from Socratic education is a factor in our current partisan climate?


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Shirley O'Shea

First, it is important to note that the story is about teaching elementary children critical thought. This is the joy of learning. Second, while controlling costs of higher education is important, it is even more important to close the income gap so that more people can afford a humanities education without being bankrupted by loan payments.

James Yazell

I absolutely agree! Of course I may be a bit biased since my major was Philosophy…

JoS. S. Laughon

99% agree.

The one problem is in 4 year colleges, justifying this massive expense to students with a limited ROI. Once we can start controlling costs, we can start justifying ignoring the more lucrative degrees.

JoS. S. Laughon

“among humanities”

Also measuring midcareer income is probably a tad unhelpful.

Anne Bay

My daughter went to a Montessori school when for her elementary school years. The Montessori method includes learning philosophy-ie. reading, studying, learning about historical influence on modern education. When she got to university, she noted she used what she had learned in Montessori regarding complex subjects-even advanced math! Some of her professors commented on her writing and how insightful she was and her critical thinking. I was fortunate to have philosophy in high school in addition to the regular curriculum. Philosophy is crucial in education.

John Chilton

David, is that your own photo taken at the Rodin exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art?

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