The case for teaching kids philosophy

Noting the deep ideological polarization of our time, writer Steve Neumann argues that the party primaries provide perfect examples of why we need to teach children philosophy; the Washington Post presents his essay as an argument in favor of bringing back philosophy before we increase the focus on computer sciences and other STEM disciplines.

Neumann is mostly concerned with teaching students how to think, not what to think; he isn’t proposing in-depth explorations of philosophical frameworks or teaching students what to think. He invokes Socrates to explain the real aim of philosophical education.

From the essay:

The focus is on asking questions because philosophy, as Socrates said, begins in wonder. We don’t just ask ourselves questions—we ask others, those who make up our society.

Neumann argues that children are more malleable than adults, and that this type of education will help raise a generation which is more open-minded and less rigid than we currently are, noting that people are so entrenched in their views now that they aren’t listening when we discuss politics or ideas.

Do you share his concern that we’re teaching children how to make a living, but not how to live? Do you think that a movement away from Socratic education is a factor in our current partisan climate?

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