Why LHS Needs Philosophy Classes


from Getty Images by Joe Cicak.

The thinking man also known as “The Thinker” is the most common symbol for philosophy. It is a bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin.

Phoenix Pittman, Staff Writer

Currently, many classes in high school focus on skills that can be quantitatively measured (i.e getting the correct answer on a math problem, etc…) rather than qualitatively measured. Students are measured by their ability to match a mold from the teacher and not their ability to make their own mold and fit it. A philosophy class would help students critically think, question and reinforce their own beliefs, and access higher education better. 

A basic philosophy class as either a mandated class or an elective for high school students would be beneficial to students. 

High school works to either prepare students for college and higher education or for joining the workforce. Philosophy classes allow students better access to higher education through boosting their critical thinking and understanding of academic terms not found in other classes. For instance, in Lincoln-Douglas debate  philosophical vocabulary is used. For example, a study from Bowling Green State University titled “Oil price shocks and employment: the case of Ohio coal mining” described their methodology as utilizing “spurious a priori constraints.” A background in philosophy helps students understand common terms like these and have access and understanding in other fields. 

Beyond being able to get a job or further their education, high school prepares students to be informed voters. Philosophy, through it’s questioning nature, allows students to understand new concepts and values or why they believe the things they believe. For instance, a student who read “Republic” by Plato could further understand justice and the need for a just state. Through questioning and group discussion, students would be able to understand if someone outside of school is using a flawed argument or a logical fallacy. This allows them to be able to support their own beliefs when contested, refute other viewpoints and articulate why students believe the way the things they do.  

At first, some argue that philosophy classes are useless external to school because they do not have direct real-world applications (for example, an accountant would not need to understand Immanuel Kant’s philosophy to do their job). However, philosophy allows students to understand how and why governments and institutions work as they do. For instance, a human resources employee could be able to dissolve a tense situation in the workplace through being able to articulate different viewpoints and problems with specific viewpoints without attacking the employee. Additionally, opposers to a philosophy class argue that the advantages to a philosophy class already come from an advanced English class like AP English or Dual-Credit English; however, English is connected to literature to drive it’s learning like analyzing “All Quiet on The Western Front” to understand why war is wrong. Philosophy allows a disconnection from a central work to grasp individual concepts that could not come from analysis like the distinction between ‘a priori’ and ‘a posteriori’.

In conclusion, creating an elective or mandated class for foundational philosophy would allow students to access higher education, specific workforces and political discussions. These classes allow a unique benefit to students that could not come from any other class.