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Should Philosophy be mandatory for all secondary school students in the UK?

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  • View Poll Results: Should Philosophy be compulsory for all UK students?
    Yes.
    43
    32.33%
    No.
    38
    28.57%
    They should actively encourage it, and 'no'.
    47
    35.34%
    They should actively discourage it (xD?)
    5
    3.76%

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    (Original post by TheSelfAcknowleged)
    So you're saying philosophy at A-Level is 'worthless'? I totally disagree (if so): it's the only subject I really feel I have to work hard in consistently (mentally) to actually achieve a good grade!
    I'm happy for you. But for the majority of people the tools which philosophy uses can be, to lesser or greater extents, learned via more practical subjects. With the topic of this thread being: 'Should [p]hilosophy be mandatory for all secondary school students in the UK?' (rather than: 'Is high-school philosophy worthless?') then my answer is a most definite 'no'.

    For what it's worth, philosophy only becomes difficult at honours level and even then it's simply because pleasing highly critical people is, clearly, a rather difficult thing to do.
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    (Original post by Zedd)
    I'm happy for you. But for the majority of people the tools which philosophy uses can be, to lesser or greater extents, learned via more practical subjects. With the topic of this thread being: 'Should [p]hilosophy be mandatory for all secondary school students in the UK?' (rather than: 'Is high-school philosophy worthless?') then my answer is a most definite 'no'.

    For what it's worth, philosophy only becomes difficult at honours level and even then it's simply because pleasing highly critical people is, clearly, a rather difficult thing to do.
    Fair enough. But I'd really like to point this out: our current A-Levels are structurally flawed. They reward memorisation too much. I'm not trying to act cocky and please tell me if I am but I'm finding politics and economics as very easy topics, but philosophy is so much harder. I have to understand all arguments from J.S. Mill's book and be able to defend all arguments constantly in essays, and on top of that giving counter and counter-counter arguments whilst consistently upholding arguments.

    I appreciate you're input: but would you agree that our current A-Level system for the non-sciences is perhaps a bit of a joke? Or are they just inherently 'easier' for most people?

    Other subjects aren't that intensive: philosophy involves greater analysis and most marks come from how you argue things, not what you know.
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    To me, this thread has just said "I enjoy Philosophy, and I want everyone to enjoy it as well, because it's useful". However, if Philosophy was mandatory, I'd say that psychology, economics, law and politics should all be mandatory. Another person would say Geography, to understand weather, History, to understand mistakes of the past etc, and so on. There is no way that anyone can cope with the required learning for all of these subjects within two years.
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    (Original post by zaliack)
    To me, this thread has just said "I enjoy Philosophy, and I want everyone to enjoy it as well, because it's useful". However, if Philosophy was mandatory, I'd say that psychology, economics, law and politics should all be mandatory. Another person would say Geography, to understand weather, History, to understand mistakes of the past etc, and so on. There is no way that anyone can cope with the required learning for all of these subjects within two years.
    I understand your point but you are obviously misguided in asserting that I have some underlying disposition towards liking philosophy (or at least implicitly suggesting it). In fact philosophy isn't a subject I really like: in fact I find it quite boring and I only really like the more science-friendly e.g. meta-ethical theories in philosophy.

    You make a fair point and I think you're right in appreciating the implications of that possibility (that "I enjoy Philosophy, and I want everyone to enjoy it as well, because it's useful"): that's an exercise of rational argument though, so that's my point. Philosophy is a vehicle in enabling self-articulation. This has particularly helped me as an A-Level student
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    (Original post by TheSelfAcknowleged)
    Fair enough. But I'd really like to point this out: our current A-Levels are structurally flawed. They reward memorisation too much. I'm not trying to act cocky and please tell me if I am but I'm finding politics and economics as very easy topics, but philosophy is so much harder. I have to understand all arguments from J.S. Mill's book and be able to defend all arguments constantly in essays, and on top of that giving counter and counter-counter arguments whilst consistently upholding arguments.

    I appreciate you're input: but would you agree that our current A-Level system for the non-sciences is perhaps a bit of a joke? Or are they just inherently 'easier' for most people?

    Other subjects aren't that intensive: philosophy involves greater analysis and most marks come from how you argue things, not what you know.
    Can't really put an opinion in when I never came through the A-Level system. Although I always got the impression that A-Levels lacked depth when compared to equivalent qualifications.

    Regarding any 'easiness' of the humanities or social sciences: Bear in mind that you've spent the larger part of your life talking, reading, writing, socially interacting and so forth. On the other hand, how much of your life do you commit to arithmetic, or the physical and biological sciences? It may be that the subject itself is at a roughly equivalent level of difficultly and the students are simply more adept at the given subjects methods and concepts.
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    (Original post by TheSelfAcknowleged)
    Fair enough. But I'd really like to point this out: our current A-Levels are structurally flawed. They reward memorisation too much. I'm not trying to act cocky and please tell me if I am but I'm finding politics and economics as very easy topics, but philosophy is so much harder. I have to understand all arguments from J.S. Mill's book and be able to defend all arguments constantly in essays, and on top of that giving counter and counter-counter arguments whilst consistently upholding arguments.

    I appreciate you're input: but would you agree that our current A-Level system for the non-sciences is perhaps a bit of a joke? Or are they just inherently 'easier' for most people?

    Other subjects aren't that intensive: philosophy involves greater analysis and most marks come from how you argue things, not what you know.
    I could not agree more. Its only when one goes to university that one realizes that A and O levels are way too bureacratic (if that is the right word) in their structure and grading to promote independent thinking. Even if people say philosophy should not be compulsory, I think we can all agree that at least a more philosophicaly informed pedagogy-that promotes the development of crucial critical faculties-needs to be drafted.


    This was posted from The Student Room's iPhone/iPad App
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    (Original post by Zedd)
    Can't really put an opinion in when I never came through the A-Level system. Although I always got the impression that A-Levels lacked depth when compared to equivalent qualifications.

    Regarding any 'easiness' of the humanities or social sciences: Bear in mind that you've spent the larger part of your life talking, reading, writing, socially interacting and so forth. On the other hand, how much of your life do you commit to arithmetic, or the physical and biological sciences? It may be that the subject itself is at a roughly equivalent level of difficultly and the students are simply more adept at the given subjects methods and concepts.
    I agree.

    Also, I personally think the sciences are harder generally speaking for most people; in fact I got a C at AS-Level maths (despite getting an A* at GCSE and being predicted an A ).

    But maybe we need to change the whole structure of education. What does it mean to be educated? Does it mean being good at rational thinking or is it more practically applicable. Of course they're not mutually exclusive and often highly intertwined: but you get what I mean. Personally I think some form of seperation or streaming is needed in our education system: it seems a bit irrelevant to our potential. Some are better critical thinkers, whereas some have other just as relevant talents <-inserts Aristotle's virtue theory here about flourishing by exercising function ->.
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    (Original post by The Owl of Minerva)
    I could not agree more. Its only when one goes to university that one realizes that A and O levels are way too bureacratic (if that is the right word) in their structure and grading to promote independent thinking. Even if people say philosophy should not be compulsory, I think we can all agree that at least a more philosophicaly informed pedagogy-that promotes the development of crucial critical faculties-needs to be drafted.


    This was posted from The Student Room's iPhone/iPad App
    Totally. To be honest with you, the only real reason I want to go into politics is to change our education system. We need to start realising that philosophy isn't airy-fairy nonsense. In fact, the greatest things that have and will be determined by mankind will be in the growing capacity of human beings to exercise philosophical thought and rationality. I'd focus on epistemology as it integrates what is a fast growing scientific base on knowledge that mankind should start to monopolise on and encourage :P

    We need to really promote critical thinking! Personally I think we'd need greater social shifts though: maybe the state (through education) can legislate for this? Hmm... that's a difficult question, don't you think?
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    I think it should be encourages, buy not made mandatory. I'm sure it's a useful subject that helps develop the skills to question and enquire and allows for interesting discussions. However, I would rather have a larger focus on the sciences and english than introducing another subject that I iomagine would only be useful if instructed by a good teacher. I would rather have it mandatory than religious studies, however.
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    (Original post by TheSelfAcknowleged)
    I understand your point but you are obviously misguided in asserting that I have some underlying disposition towards liking philosophy (or at least implicitly suggesting it). In fact philosophy isn't a subject I really like: in fact I find it quite boring and I only really like the more science-friendly e.g. meta-ethical theories in philosophy.

    You make a fair point and I think you're right in appreciating the implications of that possibility (that "I enjoy Philosophy, and I want everyone to enjoy it as well, because it's useful"): that's an exercise of rational argument though, so that's my point. Philosophy is a vehicle in enabling self-articulation. This has particularly helped me as an A-Level student
    My rational arguments are developed through law though, not philosophy .
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    I think it would be a useful subject to have, but as previously mentioned you could argue virtually every subject as useful... well not every subject but a large majority of them

    Maybe an taster session should be introduced into schools or something?? And it would have to be taught by an inspiring teacher, as everyone would treat it as a joke otherwise - we had a day like this and attempted to have a debate but it ended up being about parring each other rather than the topic itself
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    (Original post by zaliack)
    My rational arguments are developed through law though, not philosophy .
    :O HERETIC - YOU MUST CONFORM TO PHILOSOPHY xD. I take it you mean legal law? Or physical laws? If the latter, physics is a branch of philosophy :cool: :P Uhh...at least I think (science is part of epistemology, at least I think :P)
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    (Original post by RobertWhite)
    In RE lessons they should teach basic philosophy but I don't think we should force people to take an actual course in it, say at A level.
    We did learn basic philosophy in mandatory RE classes at the school I went to (I was in secondary 2004-2009 / RE was mandatory for students for the first four years). Then I studied it again this past session (2011-2012) simply out of interest - but I won't be studying it again (formally, anyway) in future.


    No, I don't think it should be mandatory. It would just be another course that takes up space in a student's timetable when they could be studying something they actually want to learn about instead. :/
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    (Original post by TheSelfAcknowleged)
    :O HERETIC - YOU MUST CONFORM TO PHILOSOPHY xD. I take it you mean legal law? Or physical laws? If the latter, physics is a branch of philosophy :cool: :P Uhh...at least I think (science is part of epistemology, at least I think :P)
    I hope you're joking. . .
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    (Original post by TheSelfAcknowleged)
    :O HERETIC - YOU MUST CONFORM TO PHILOSOPHY xD. I take it you mean legal law? Or physical laws? If the latter, physics is a branch of philosophy :cool: :P
    Yeah legal law, which to be honest, is just a philosophy developed through 800 years of our judiciary, monarch and legislatures.
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    (Original post by sinfonietta)
    It would just be another course that takes up space in a student's timetable when they could be studying something they actually want to learn about instead. :/
    Yeah I'd hate philosophy to become one of those subjects!
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    (Original post by zaliack)
    Yeah legal law, which to be honest, is just a philosophy developed through 800 years of our judiciary, monarch and legislatures.
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    (Original post by Zedd)
    I hope you're joking. . .
    lol ofc I'm just fooling around in case people think I'm seriously obsessed with philosophy.
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    (Original post by Zedd)
    I hope you're joking. . .
    Then again, couldn't you say that quantum physics is kind of like epistemology because the limits of knowledge are answered through the scientific method? Hmm...then again that's pushing it :P I'd say that's more of a similarity
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    No, I don't think so. People who don't want to take it would ruin the class for others who do.

    (Original post by Formerly Helpful_C)
    No, because then it rewards people who use the right side of their brain, whilst punishing those who use the left side. How is that really fair?
    Unlike Science and Mathematics being mandatory? "But Science and Mathematics are actually useful!" I've never had to use Algebra or know anything about the cellular structure of plants outside of GCSE lessons (in fact, I'd say the only Science/Mathematics things useful to most people outside of school is addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and only the most rudimentary of KS3 Science) so using your logic this unfairly "rewards people who use the left side of their brain, whilst punishing those who use the right side".

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