Philosophy? Who needs that?

Philosophy? Who needs that?

From “The School of Athens” by Raphael Santi

This photo shows a depiction of philosophers Plato (left), and Aristotle (right).

Why are politics so important? Why should high school students care about politics? Philosophy is just a bunch of old white guys with long beards bickering, right? Wrong. More and more, these are the questions that high school students are asking. There seems to be a generally apathetic attitude towards areas of thought like politics, as if it’s some outdated thing that doesn’t have any relevance until people turn 18. In reality, however, the opposite is true.

High school is the perfect time to be interested in things like politics and philosophy for several different reasons.

First, there’s the practical reason. When somebody turns 18, they are eligible to vote, and in order to make an accurate and informed decision, people need to be aware of the different issues in the world and the different solutions that different sides have to offer. If people try to scramble to figure all of this out on election day, there’s no way they can make an informed decision. Starting early, students need to be exposed to this kind of information. If the school isn’t doing it, then the responsibility rests on people’s individual interest and drive to know more about how the world they live in works. High school is the ideal time for students to figure out this information.

Plato (not to be confused with the Greek philosopher) is a philosophy advocacy group that promotes the teaching of philosophy in the classroom, as an everyday experience. On their website they write, “[High school students] remain open, inquisitive, and intellectually playful. For many adolescents, the perennial questions posed by philosophy have urgency and personal significance.” This leads to the second reason, a much more personal one.

High school is the time many people begin to define their own beliefs. Whether they know it or not, students are engaging in philosophical activity. Plato’s website goes on to say, “They learn how to pose a good question, how to inspect and scrutinize their deeply held beliefs, and how to work out their own ideas with care and rigor.” Studying philosophy and politics gives people the tools they need to be successful with this task.

The ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, once said that, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Rather than discount politics and philosophy as irrelevant ideas for the future, people need to start understanding these concepts now. By studying philosophy, people will find that not only are they more informed, but that they are also more fulfilled.