Skip to main content

Philosophy for children, cont'd

When you can get philosophers in unanimity on something, you know (or do you?) that it's a no-brainer.  One thing that philosophers can be in unanimous agreement about, once they've read the (thoroughly researched) Stanford Encyclopedia entry at the very least, is the urgent necessity to spread the idea of philosophy for children as far and wide ASAFP.  Once again, a money quote:

Nevertheless, because they lack background in the formal study of philosophy, many teachers are reluctant to encourage the philosophical thinking of their students. Their fears, however, are exaggerated. Familiarity with some of the standard philosophical literature might be desirable, but it is not necessary for bringing Philosophy for Children into the classroom. What is required is the ability to facilitate philosophical discussion. For this, it is much more important that teachers have some philosophical curiosity themselves than a familiarity with academic philosophical literature. Like their students, teachers unfamiliar with the discipline of philosophy may nevertheless have an aptitude for philosophical thinking—or at least a knack for recognizing when others are engaged in philosophical thought. [emphasis added]
The implications of this are of end-of-history-level (or should I just say it: utopian) significance.  (I now have a bet on offer with Bryan Caplan on facebook about how soon, say, philosophy-for-children might end up in the regular education curriculum.  Given Caplan's betting protocols - he's undefeated in 14 bets and counting - I should be rather confident that I know whereof I speak.)  One implication is this: in order to do the rightest-possible thing by our kids and get them into philosophy at as young an age as feasible, the adults need to get philosophically curious themselves.  (About fucking time?)  Philosophy is intellectual curiosity, and intellectual curiosity about philosophy may well be the best kind there is.  Just maybe.

In light of this let's consider one piece of feedback I've gotten about this on facebook (on a homework-doing-focused group, Polymath Mafia):

Michael Strong Chris Cathcart I've been leading highly philosophical intellectual dialogues in classrooms since the 1980s. I started out in Chicago Public Schools, then created special dedicated programs in public schools in Alaska, and since then have created or co-created a charter and many private schools in which Socratic dialogue was core (I've looked at the Philosophy for Children curriculum and found it a bit too constraining for my tastes, but I've certainly spent thousands of hours engaging students of all ages in philosophical dialogue in classrooms). By the mid-1990s I had concluded that it is impossible to do this at scale with any kind of quality in government schools. The combination of political governance and bureaucratic management makes any kind of serious innovation at scale in public schools impossible. There are certainly individual teachers, principals, and occasionally superintendents who implement good programs for a period of time. But when the supporting school board member(s), superintendents, or principals leave then the programs tend to revert back towards the mean: Public education is mostly about compliance. In small districts there can be some responsiveness to parent demands, but in larger districts bureaucratic compliance is the name of the game. Moreover, in many parts of the US the parents are actively hostile to philosophical inquiry. When I was implementing Socratic questioning in Alaska, a parent approached me saying, "Your questions cause confusion. Confusion comes from Satan. What you are doing is Satanic. I'm going to get you kicked out of the district." And in most districts, 5-10 activist parents can kill just about any innovation. Thus paradoxically, in order to create a more philosophically sophisticated citizenry, we need to eliminate government schools and allow for a market in education. My book, which outlines my approach,

(Is it any wonder Socrates was sentenced to death by hemlock for his philosophical activity - on charges of "corrupting the youth" and "denying the gods."  I believe the human race has since learned better.)

The kind of resistance described here can be remarkably easy to overcome.  For a period of years now I have been in regular personal discussion and correspondence with a Christian pastor who is thoroughly on board with the spread of wisdom-loving once I've explained the basic concept.  He is now urging me to write that (ultimate?) philosophy for children book that may well need to be written (or does it?...).  Take as an example the highest-level theistic philosophizing in blog format (or any other that I know of) at Maverick Philosopher.  Far as I can make out, Maverick is the wisest blogger on the planet and it might not be close.  (So anytime now, he, too, should be robustly on board with philosophy-for-children....)  If anything, the kids need philosophy to best defend their faith against the intellectual sloppiness and hubris of the 'new atheists.'  (David Bentley Hart's smackdown of the 'New Atheists' and their philosophical illiteracy is pretty epic.)  Aquinas is the greatest pro-intellectual-perfectionism figure in the Christian tradition.  There's nothing for Christian parents to fear here, and tons to gain.  (Doesn't a loving God want intellectual perfection for us, so that we may face our earthly demise with the utmost wisdom?)

I don't agree with all of Michael Strong's points above.  The schooling format is essentially irrelevant in this context.  The benefits far exceed any costs.  At the present time, fights over school formats or funding are fights over CRUMBS compared to what's at stake here.  The only problem here is an incompleteness of (shared) knowledge, is all.


Popular posts from this blog

Make Presidents Great Again

or: What Would Marcus Aurelius Tweet?

The first four presidents of the United States - Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison - were philosophical people.  They loved, cherished, and pursued (and may even have attained to some extent) wisdom.  (The American Philosophical Society [APS] of which they were members was co-founded by Ben Franklin; let's call the aforementioned the Big Five of the American Founding.)  It's not a stretch to say that had America's founding generation not been of the intellectual and moral caliber that they were - had they not been the sort of people who would found or become members of a philosophical society - America probably wouldn't be the great nation it has been.

Unfortunately, their legacy has been squandered, to the point that we have the shitshow of today.  Having an uncouth, unread man as president - elected mainly on the promise of taking on the (intellectually bankrupt and therefore) corrupt swamp that is D.C. - is but a symptom of th…

#BlackLivesMatter, #EqualPay and the Anthem

The athletes disrespecting the flag and country during the National Anthem should do better than Trump.  Instead of sowing further division and sending all kinds of the wrong message (and Kaepernick and by extension Nike definitely crossed over the line with the Betsy Ross flag thing without even so much as a word of dialogue with flag- and country-lovers - roughly as shameful and disgraceful as Google's rebuttal-by-firing of James Damore[*]), they should use their creative powers to both respect the flag and send their message.

[*] - This particularly ugly episode in "woke social justice" history has me believing with at least 98% confidence that Rectenwald has these anti-dialogue cultists dead to rights.  I cannot abide these aspiring mini-Maos; disgusting creatures.  I won't even touch the trans issue with a ten foot pole given the rampant toxicity/radioactivity there I've seen just on surface inspection.  If an entity like Google fucks up as badly as it did wi…

Inn Video on Demand (VOD) Technology

As the name proposes, the innovation permits the visitors in lodgings to watch recordings on request which may incorporate motion pictures, music or more assortment of recordings, for example, narratives, travel recordings and so on. Right now will investigate the VOD innovation that sudden spikes in demand for Internet Protocols or IP in short. This is the most recent, productive and helpful innovation starting today.

How to assemble Hotel VOD framework?

A fundamental Hotel VOD framework running on IP convention involves five primary innovation parts -


Streamer or gushing server

Decoder or Set top box

Supporter and Content administration framework/OSS

Encryption and DRM

How about we investigate elements of every one of these segments -

Encoder - The encoder basically convert the source content into fitting codec, for example, MPEG2 or H.264 and bundles it in suitable streamable organization like MPEG2 TS to make it work adequately as an "On request" content. The mo…