I believe this Duke pre-law student has it right. He argues that in order to have a more civil society, we should start teaching philosophy in high schools. I "had" to take exactly one philosophy class, which I did grudgingly at FSU (I much preferred to read my finance and economics text books at that time). At the age of 57, I am just beginning to understand the impact this knowledge gap (void) has had on my life over the years. While I do not believe it would address the root causes of the many problems we face, teaching philosophy in HS would certainly prepare kids (at least those who have the capacity to take it in at that age) to be better people as adults. Then again, I firmly believe the old proverb, which states that the teacher only appears when the student is ready.
Although a democratic society cannot function unless its citizens are able to rationally debate one another, rationality is missing from American politics. We assail our political enemies with intractable opinions and self-righteous anger. An ugly bitterness pervades everything. Meanwhile, our country is slowly but surely committing suicide.
This begs the question: How can we solve this crisis? Because the capacity to debate requires the capacity to think, I believe the answer lies in philosophy.
Why philosophy? Because the study of philosophy, the "love of wisdom," creates and nurtures thoughtful minds, minds that can -- as Aristotle suggests -- entertain a thought without accepting it. With a philosophic worldview, a Republican who despises any tax increase or economic stimulus could at least consider the notion of tax hikes or Keynesian economics. A Democrat facing antithetical ideas could do likewise. Thought rather than anger could become the default response to opposing worldviews.
Indeed, philosophy can do a great deal to lessen the anger that is growing like a cancerous tumor in modern America. The tools exist in both Eastern and Western thought -- in the Stoic exhortation to accept the present as it is, in Buddhist meditation, in the Humanist's transcendent appeal to reason, in Kant's categorical imperative. Philosophy can help us inculcate virtue for, in the words of Socrates, "knowledge is virtue."
Full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-shammas/for-a-better-society-teac_b_2356718.html