Curriculum

Students Get Philosophical

By Mary Ann Zehr — August 06, 2009 1 min read

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.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.