Tuesday, April 28, 2009


My daughter was surprised to find Plano did not offer an elective in Philosophy. I enjoyed having a class on Philosophy when I was in high school and she hoped to have a similar experience. Talking about this with another parent, I was asked how Philosophy could be taught in high school. That is an excellent question.

One might expect a survey course in Philosophy, like I had, would be best for high school. After thought and research, I think a course on Plato's Republic is very feasible for high school. As I have described elsewhere, combining a commercially available course by a college professor from the Teaching Company with a scripted and unabridged enactment of The Republic available from Agora Publications would bring Plato's Republic within reach of high school students who are ready to stretch their minds.

A course on the Philosophy of Capitalism would be a good elective for seniors. The Teaching Company has a course, "Thinking About Capitalism," that is excellent. This course could be combined with reading books such as "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith or "Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy" by Joseph Schumpeter.

I saw a US Congressman on C-Span say he had no choice but to vote for a bank bailout because he did not understand economics. Notice he did not say he did not understand math or science. It is ignorance of economics that is ruining our economy, hence our students should have a high level course on the theory of Capitalism. What is available now in an economics course in high school is good for what it seeks to do: explain the mechanistic elements of economics. But understanding the philosophy of Capitalism is what is needed to understand big issues like globalization.

I mentioned in another blog post that Scarsdale High School is backing away from Advanced Placement (AP) courses and is offering advanced courses of their own design. We can do the same. A course on Plato's Republic and a course on the Philosophy of Capitalism would prepare our students to excel in a highly competitive world.

Robert Canright

PS: I have prepared a syllabus for a Continuing Education class on Plato's Republic. An interested group of adults can study Plato's Republic. Contact me if you are interested.

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