Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Philosophy in Schools

Philosophy in Schools
A Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY

Background
Over recent years there has been a growing movement pushing for the inclusion of Philosophy in schools.[1]
As a subject, Philosophy is broad. It can be separated into many sub-disciplines such as Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Mind, Ethics, and Philosophy of Science, to name a few. These sub-disciplines reduce back to three broad pillars of Philosophy: Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Axiology.
Regardless of where one’s philosophical interest sits, the essential skill set remains the same. This is the ability to reason. Philosophers produce rationally convincing arguments and critically assess the arguments of others.
In this fictional dialogue Socrates meets with Allison Fells, the Principal of Western Heights School, to discuss the inclusion of Philosophy in the school curriculum. Socrates has been running a successful Philosophy club at school and believes that students would benefit through the extension of the club into the regular school curriculum. Socrates argues that Philosophy equips students with the skill set needed to live the good life.

On Education

On Education
A short Socratic dialogue
By BRENT SILBY


Background
Socrates has been invited to run a philosophy discussion group at Western Heights school. The discussion group is part of a social sciences class. During the discussion a student interrupts to question its importance, given that it does not contribute to course assessment.
Student: Is this going to be on the test?
Socrates: What do you mean?
Student: I just want to know if this discussion is important. If it’s not being assessed, then I think we should move on.
Socrates: Why do you say that?
Student: I don’t think we should be wasting our time on unimportant discussions.
Socrates: But you are here to learn, are you not?

Computers in the Classroom

Computers in the Classroom
A Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY

Background
Socrates is visiting Western Heights School with a view to setting up a philosophy club. Western Heights School incorporates intermediate and secondary level students. Students are aged 11 to 18 years. The school’s Principal, Allison Fells, is open to the idea of a philosophy club and is meeting with Socrates to discuss his proposal.

The Atheist and the Agnostic


The Atheist and the Agnostic
A Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY

Background
Walking through a small green space near the center of Western Heights town, Socrates comes across Paul, who is taking his lunch break in the sun, reading an article by the atheist writer Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens strongly argues that religion is the root cause of many of the world’s problems. In his writings and live debates, Hitchens argues that belief in God is irrational. Paul agrees with Hitchens and tries to convince Socrates that because God doesn’t exist, believing in him is crazy. Through the following dialogue, Paul finds that agnosticism is a more rational position than hard atheism.

Opinion or Truth

Opinion or Truth
A Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY
Background
Through this dialogue we see the problem that arises when we take a relativist stance to truth. Many people have taken a liking to relativism; perhaps because it seems so wonderfully democratic. However, the further one goes down the relativist road, the more difficult it becomes to answer fairly straightforward questions. It is almost as if the relativist tries to use logic to argue that logic doesn’t work.

Sugar and Hyperactivity in Children


Sugar and Hyperactivity in Children
A Modern Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY


Background
In this hypothetical dialogue, Socrates has targeted a parent’s belief that sugar makes children hyperactive. Through the discussion, the parent comes to understand that correlation does not entail causation.

Moral Relativism

Moral Relativism
A Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY

Background
As he walks through the theater district in Western Heights town, Socrates comes across John leaving a movie theater. Through a series of questions, Socrates reveals the problem with moral relativism. This dialogue serves as an introduction to moral relativism.