Philosophy across the Curriculum and the Question of Teacher Capacity; Or, What Is Philosophy and Who Can Teach It?

Journal of Philosophy of Education 51 (4):817-836 (2017)
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Abstract

Pre-college philosophy has proliferated greatly over the last few decades, including in the form of ‘philosophy across the curriculum’. However, there has been very little sustained examination of the nature of philosophy as a subject relative to other standard pre-college subjects and the kinds of expertise an effective philosophy teacher at this level should possess. At face value, the minimal academic preparation expected for competence in secondary philosophy instruction, compared to the high standards for teaching other subjects, raises questions and concerns. In this paper I make some provisional observations about the subject of philosophy and how it is taught from p4c through to the post-secondary level. I begin by examining the concept of ‘philosophy across the curriculum’ and offer a working analysis of the main features of philosophy's form and content that enable us to determine its relevance to, and difference from, other subjects. Next, I examine and critique what I term the ‘populist’ conception of philosophy, which correlates to lower expectations of teacher training, and use my own experience of teaching philosophy across the curriculum to shed doubt on the viability of this approach. In the third section I consider what I term the ‘autonomous’ conception of philosophy, which correlates to more stringent expectations of teacher capacity, and explain why it is preferable to the populist conception with some qualifications. I conclude by reflecting on how philosophy compares to other subjects that are advanced cross-curricularly and argue for more training of high school philosophy teachers.

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Author's Profile

Lauren Bialystok
University of Toronto, St. George Campus (PhD)

References found in this work

Philosophy and the Young Child.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1982 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 43 (2):265-267.
Philosophy and other disciplines.Sven Ove Hansson - 2008 - Metaphilosophy 39 (4-5):472-483.
Philosophy and Other Disciplines.Svenove Hansson - 2008 - Metaphilosophy 39 (4-5):472-483.
The History of Philosophy as a Discipline.Michael Frede - 1988 - Journal of Philosophy 85 (11):666-672.

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