As an alternative to the malnourished conception of education that permeates many school environments, we aim to provide an enriching educational experience for our students. The Philosophy Outreach is predicated on our conviction that engagement with philosophy can help students – all students – foster intellectual curiosity, while building essential skills such as analysis, critical reading , critical thinking, and clarity in logic, writing, speech and argument. Our philosophy clubs are premised on our conviction that the practice of philosophy can enhance students’ understanding of other academic areas such as biology, literature, history, physics, and language studies. Insights gained from the study of philosophy can enable us to form a richer and more nuanced interpretation of novels and poems. Historical events can be understood with greater clarity when we study the history of ideas that shaped historical events. Scientific reasoning can better be understood through the study of its philosophical logic as well as its purpose. But most importantly: we view sustained and rigorous philosophical thinking as a crucial component of an ethical and meaningful life, not to mention a political one.
At the heart of our collaboration, and at the center of our Outreach Project, we have utilized dialogue -the language of philosophy – as our pedagogical approach. Dialogue, an appropriate dwelling place between Philosophy and Education, allows students to guide their own educational journey, engaging their own ideas and use of language while also engaging their peers, the great questions, and a core literacy. In such a setting, students and teachers can interact with both humanity and rigor, engaging each other in the immediate while simultaneously engaging the timeless issues of existence, thus, taking their place within the human dialogue.
It’s not a radical idea, and it certainly is not new. This is the beauty of this approach – philosophy is the language of education. Our Philosophy Outreach is a volunteer initiative, based on the conviction of the benefits of the pre-college instruction of philosophy; but we have as our center and aim something deeply profound and shockingly accessible – the thinking individual.