Philosphy as a Mandatory High School Course
In a world where obesity is just cause for suing a restaurant, where a person’s driving skills are cause for highway violence, where people are taken in so easily by cheap advertising tricks and gimmicks, I think it is important to develop the ability for critical thinking and reasoning among young adults. Philosophy is a discipline that best addresses such an issue. Philosophy deals with investigations into a variety of subjects from the constituents of the universe to the best way to live to the principles of reasoning. Such investigations are subject to the reason, no assumptions go unexamined, no conclusions are made prematurely on the basis of revelations, dogmas, or authority. This aids in the development of critical thinking, which is essential to self-examination and reflection leading to change and improvement.
So many of the world’s problems could be solved if individuals just sat down and really thought and examined their decisions and lifestyle sincerely. Problems such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or the energy crisis could be solved with the proper application of reason to government policies, thinking about our goals in terms of our most important wants and needs. Philosophy provides students with the tools for the critical analysis and thought necessary to solve such problems. It is not only global problems that can be solved through such methods, but also everyday problems. Looking at things rationally and logically can help people to develop solutions for problems, at home or in the workplace, that benefit everyone. Such a course would also be an important base for the development of political opinion, essential to democracy.
Philosophy is an important course for high school students because it provides the basis for rational problem solving, an important skill in any workplace, from the laboratory to the office to the kitchen to the home. Mathematics is important, science is important, language is important, but none provide the ability for real world problems solving that philosophy would. I believe strongly in the promotion of a course in philosophy, as George Berkeley put it, “being nothing but the study of wisdom and truth.”