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Filosofi mot opptøyer
Et skotsk forsvar for filosofi med barn
Oyvind (Administrator) #1
User title: Dixi et liberavi
Member since Jul 2005 · 813 posts · Location: Eidsvoll
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Subject: Filosofi mot opptøyer
I an avisartikkel nylig foreslår den skotske historikeren og forfatteren Allan Massie å innføre filosofi i skolen. Han viser til at alle ungdomsskoler i Brasil idag er pålagt ved lov å ha minst to timer filosofiundervisning pr. uke. I Brasil undervises det i filosofihistorie, men det er også meningen at elevene skal reflektere rundt sentrale filosofiske begreper som rett og galt. Massie mener andre land burde følge etter Brasil her. Ikke minst Storbritannia som sommeren 2011 opplevde voldsomme og ødeleggende ungdomsopptøyer. Ifølge Massie kan den sosiale uroen, i det minste delvis, forklares med «philosophical blindness» hos de unge.

Her er også verdt å merke seg følgende argument for (eller tilbakevisning av innvending mot) filosofi med barn: «Some may think it absurd to ask young people who may struggle with arithmetic or reading to engage in philosophical discussion. Yet it may be even more absurd to think them incapable of being interested in the sort of questions that moral philosophy poses.» Med andre ord: La gå at det i en viss forstand er absurd å la barn som sliter med tilegnelsen av grunnleggende ferdigheter diskutere filosofi. Man må bare ikke derav slutte at disse barna er ute av stand til å interessere seg for moralfilosofiske problemer. Interesse og engasjement trumfer altså kompetanse. Men gjør det det? Bør det gjøre det? Er dette et godt argument?

Compulsory philosophy lessons would teach young rioters a thing or two

By Allan Massie

In 2008 the Brazilian parliament passed a law requiring philosophy to be taught in every high school. So nine million teenagers now study philosophy for at least two hours a week. Some of what is offered is apparently an introductory course on the history of philosophy beginning with Plato. Other lessons deal with philosophical concepts such as the nature of justice, or ethical ones: why do we think certain things right and others wrong? Many Brazilians are, for instance, the descendants of either slaves or slave-owners – many presumably descendants of both. So they may be asked to consider why the institution of slavery found defenders, even among people one might consider to have been virtuous, and why it is now condemned.

This raises the question: if what was once thought acceptable now finds no defenders, does the understanding of what is good respond to changes in economic and social structures? Are some things always right and others always wrong? If so, why was it once thought right to burn witches and heretics?

Perhaps we have something to learn from the Brazilians. Perhaps the teaching of philosophy should be mandatory in our schools too. After last summer's riots there was much talk, some of it wild, some nasty, about "feral youths" and, more restrainedly, about our "desocialised young people". David Cameron, while in Opposition, spoke about our "broken society", and though he was referring principally to problems arising from family breakdown and the consequences of welfare-supported worklessness, it's evident that some at least of our social discontents may be attributed to what one might call philosophical blindness.

Some may think it absurd to ask young people who may struggle with arithmetic or reading to engage in philosophical discussion. Yet it may be even more absurd to think them incapable of being interested in the sort of questions that moral philosophy poses. Children from an early age have a strong sense of fairness, or at least of unfairness. There can’t be anyone reading this who didn’t as a child sometimes complain “it’s not fair”. Asking teenagers to engage in discussion about right and wrong, fairness and unfairness, the nature of justice, why we obey the law and in what circumstances – if any – it might be right to disobey a particular law, is to offer them something which naturally appeals to even the most ignorant.

“Why are the laws levelled against us?”, asks Macheath the highwayman in The Beggar’s Opera. “Are we more dishonest than the rest of mankind?” Good question, because it is a dangerous one.

Philosophy is more about asking questions than offering answers. So it gets one to think about what one has accepted unthinkingly. This is why it may have a more immediate appeal to young people who are discovering who and what they are, and what the social world is, than to adults who are set in their opinions.

Arguing questions of right and wrong is a way of learning to distinguish between the two. Asking why we should obey the law invites examination of a world without law. The next step is to examine the responsibility of the individual when the moral law is in conflict with the laws of a criminal state such as Nazi Germany.

Why do we believe what we do, and is our belief justified? All such questions can engage the young, and lead them to think about their own nature and that of the world they are growing up in. So let us copy the Brazilians and make the teaching of philosophy for a few hours a week compulsory in our schools. This might go some way to repairing what is broken in our society, and help us to rear well informed and responsible citizens. And in the meantime the kids might have fun tossing these concepts around and arguing them out.
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