With the recent shift in educational theory towards skills-based learning objectives in North America, a climate has been created where for the first time in almost a century Philosophy can be found to have a place in a secondary curriculum. While many educators —the author included— will make the case that there has always been a justification for Philosophy in secondary school, the reality is that the critical thinking and self-awareness developed by Philosophy are exactly the kinds of skills that the academic education community is now demanding we teach students in the 21st century.
In response to this impetus, the course presented in this website has been developed to form a framework for an introduction to Philosophy for Senior-aged secondary students. The 'mechanics' of course execution are left vague to maximize adaptability, but the lesson plans and unit design are formulated specifically to hone core skills —philosophical thinking— while imparting only the distilled essential domain knowledge.
What This Course Is Not
This is not a course in textual criticism. Nor is it a history of anything. One of the most significant pitfalls of so-called 'high-academic' subjects —social sciences specifically— which are brought to younger students is the burden of domain knowledge. Domain knowledge is only for the passionately interested. Only those wanting (really wanting) an undergraduate degree in Philosophy need to spend the time dissecting Aristotle's prose or framing Marx in his historical context. The real value of philosophy for young people is the modes of thinking it can introduce them to and the possibilities of understanding it creates for them; and they do not need the etcetera of a university course to get that.
Depending on the region in which a teacher is hoping to implement this course, they will probably be required to identify the specific means by which lessons and units satisfy learning objectives in their jurisdiction; this task is obviously part of adapting the course. Meanwhile, to give structure to the course without making adaptation harder than it needs to be, some generic principals of Philosophical Thinking have been outlined below in no particular order. The purpose of these principals is to inform the overarching goals of the course without employing region-specific edu-speak.
- Critical Thinking
- The ability to evaluate a claim for truthfulness. An appropriate and ubiquitous skepticism that motivates a curiosity for validation in everyday life.
- The process of marshalling of facts to rationally support a claim. Includes the deconstruction of arguments to identify flaws in reasoning.
- Meta cognition during theoretical thinking. Taking into account the method, structure, and result of a concept's properties when planning, applying, and creating.
- Intellectual Self-Awareness
- The recognition of human sentience and a knowledge of one's own convictions. This is about exploring the self as much as 'the other' and the external. Evaluating and applying philosophical principals with respect to oneself.