Plato would turn in his ‘cave’

Carlos Fraenkel, Boston Review

Thanks to a 2008 law that mandates philosophy instruction in all Brazilian high schools, 9 million teenagers now take classes for 2 hours each week over 3 years.

For example, the contrast between new luxury hotels along the beach and some of the countries poorest and most dangerous neighbourhoods gives rise to questions about equality and justice. Children kicking around a can introduce a discussion about democracy: football is one of the few truly democratic practices in Brazil; success depends on merit, not class privilege.

Moving between philosophy and practice, students can revise their views in light of what Plato, Hobbes, or Locke had to say about equality, justice, and democracy and discuss their own roles as political agents.

The official rationale for the 2008 law is that philosophy “is necessary for the exercise of citizenship.” The law — the world’s largest-scale attempt to bring philosophy into the public sphere — thus represents an experiment in democracy. Among teachers at least, many hope that philosophy will provide a path to greater civic participation and equality. Can it do even more? Can it teach students to question and challenge the foundations of society itself?

Read the full article at the Boston Review …