Last year we sought to answer the question “Should Children Do Philosophy?” And of course, the short and obvious answer is, “Yes.”
But what does that mean practically?
First, it doesn’t mean to teach a Philosophy 101 Class to elementary or middle school kids. There could be a place for that, but more accurately the real time and place for philosophy is: everywhere all the time. Kids needs philosophical skills to access answers to life’s more challenging questions.
There is a great way to connect this idea with technology. Some of our kids are very excited about coding. Scratch.mit.edu offers a great program for this, where kids can learn basic coding skills through simple animations. But what sort of work could coders be doing in the future? One area worth exploring is automated driving. There is a serious push amongst many sectors of our economy, politically, scientifically, and financially, to begin to accommodate driverless automobiles, and even allow them to dominate the roadways. There are efficiencies that can be gained, and safety advantages, for sure . And there are also big questions about what decisions should be made in programming the cars and systems which will guide them.
Take a look at this video from ed.Ted:
It’s a great idea to ask these questions. How would your kid answer them?
One way to look at is that there are certain “muscles” in the brain that need to be worked and exercised and taxed and strained occasionally in order to work one’s way through rigorous inquiry. There are many that believe that your typical classroom simply is not exercising these “muscles” enough to equip students for these sorts of ethical dilemmas. That leaves parents and their choice, alternative sources of education in the driver’s seat on developing these skills and abilities.
In order for this to happen, the students don’t need to read textbooks on Kant, Hume, Thomas Aquinas, or Aristotle (although that wouldn’t hurt eventually). What they need is a continuous process by which they have solve challenges through deliberation and discussion.
Make sure whatever choice you make in educating your children, whether through enrichment after school, or homeschooling or “hybrid” schools or “microschooling”…that your teachers and mentors teach in a way that trains the brain to work through real life challenges. Because what looks like a technology problem at first, very often turns out to be more of a philosophical one.