Teaching Philosophy – Volume 36, Number 3 – 2013


Jana Mohr Lone; Mitchell Green, guest editors
Philosophy in High Schools – Guest Editors’ Introduction to a Special Issue of Teaching Philosophy

James R. Davis
Socrates in Homeroom – A Case Study for Integrating Philosophy across a High School Curriculum
How should we teach philosophy in high schools? While electives are useful, I advocate going further to integrate philosophy into each traditional subject. High school instructors, working with philosophers, first teach logic as a foundation for asking philosophical questions within their subjects. Students are then encouraged to think about how they reason and what assumptions they are making in each subject. In English, students might consider what makes a novel a work of art; in science, they might explore what it means to call a theory “true.” Unlike an elective model, my approach ensures that all students benefit from philosophy during their secondary education. I conclude the paper with suggestions for implementation.

Sean A. Riley
Building a High School Philosophy Program
Building a high school philosophy program from scratch requires vision, creativity, determination, and patience. I recount the steps my colleagues and I took to implement philosophy courses at The Stony Brook School and discuss the challenges that arose along the way. I also offer general outlines of the three courses we have implemented (Critical Reading and Reasoning, History of Philosophy, and Ethics and Politics), discuss pedagogical approaches that we have found to work with high school students, and share feedback on the courses from my students.

Robert Colter; Joseph Ulatowski
What’s Wrong with This Picture? – Teaching Ethics through Film to Wyoming High School Students
We regularly teach for the Wyoming High School Institute (“HSI”), a three-week college experience for rising high school juniors. The purpose of HSI is to introduce pre-college students to subjects not regularly taught in the secondary school curriculum. In our course, we introduce moral philosophy through the use of feature films. More narrowly, we challenge the students to examine moral reasoning through analysis of the moral reasoning of characters in these films. Our pedagogical approach is based in the methods of Socrates and in the technique of “scaffolding.” We attempt to show how our approach can be incorporated into any pre-college philosophy classroom.

Jacob Nebel; Ryan W. Davis; Peter van Elswyk; Ben Holguin
Teaching Philosophy through Lincoln-Douglas Debate
This paper is about teaching philosophy to high school students through Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate. LD, also known as “values debate,” includes topics from ethics and political philosophy. Thousands of high school students across the U.S. debate these topics in class, after school, and at weekend tournaments. We argue that LD is a particularly effective tool for teaching philosophy, but also that LD today falls short of its potential. We argue that the problems with LD are not inevitable, and we offer strategic recommendations for improving LD as a tool for teaching philosophy. Ultimately, our aim is to create a dialogue between LD and academic philosophy, with the hope that such dialogue will improve LD’s capacity to teach students how to do philosophy.


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