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Elsa Haraldsdóttir (Reykjavík/Iceland)#

The Value and Enhancement of Philosophical Thinking #

Although discussions about the value and role of philosophy is almost as old as philosophy itself, the discussion is usually either rather general and detached from compulsory education and actual educational practices within schools. This applies to historical figures such as Kant, Rousseau, Schiller, Russell and many others. Moreover, even though great insights can be drawn from historical thinkers on the nature and relevance of philosophical thinking, contemporary society poses challenges which are new or at least different from historical contexts. One can mention the challenges introduced by Edward O. Wilson in his book The Meening of Human Existence (2014), Robert Frodeman’s and Adam Briggle’s book Socrates Tenured: The Institutions of 21st Century Philosophy (2016), and Anthony Pagden’s the Enlightenment and Why It Still Matters (2013). Their texts focus on the role of philosophy in society in general both in relation to the idea of the Enlightenment, the current compromises in regard to what we can know as truth or facts, how science are questioned but at the same time contribute to a rapid growth within technology, as seen within the vast questions artificial intelligence raises about the human condition. Finally, ethical question in regard to our existence and our relationship to nature and how we value the land we are living on in relationship to current threats of global warming. All these elements relate to an argument for enhancing philosophy and philosophical thinking within education with a great emphasize on the role of the teacher. It is he who can open up the space for the dialogue or close it down, he also selects the teaching material, and he is also the one who may recognize philosophy in our “everyday element” and knows and understand how it can be taken further, what can contribute to it, and how it can be a source of learning and creativity. With an empirical research amongst teachers teaching philosophy the objectives are defining the significance of the teacher’s knowledge and attitude in this regard. How much do we need to know about philosophy or philosophical thinking to be able to teach it or enhance it within others? Does the teacher need to be a philosopher to be able to enhance philosophical thinking?