Philosophy, Education and the Corruption of Youth—From Socrates to Islamic Extremists

Educational Philosophy and Theory 45 (1):6-19 (2013)
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Abstract

Following Aristotle’s description of youth and brief discussion about indoctrination and parrhesia, the article historicizes Socrates’ trial as the intersection of philosophy, education and a teacher’s influence on youth. It explores the historic-political context and how contemporary Athenians might have viewed Socrates and his student’s actions, whereby his teachings were implicated in three coups led by his former students against Athenian democracy, for or which he accepted little or no responsibility. Socrates appears subversively anti-democratic. This provides grounds that challenge the dominant and standard philosophical account of Socrates as one of the great teachers, perhaps the greatest in the Western tradition, and critiques the way philosophy so often presents a de-contextualized and ahistorical picture. Concerns about the influence of education, teachers and indoctrination on youth have existed since ancient times. Currently, many states, especially, but not only, democracies, are concerned about Islamic fundamentalist teachings potentially leading to terrorism. The article presents contemporary exemplars from four countries: Austria, Kenya, the UK and Saudi Arabia. The crucial question remains: to what extent is it reasonable to hold a teacher responsible for a student’s subsequent actions?

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