This is snarky Irish reporter Elliot Barnhill, and right now I am standing with one foot on the White House lawn giving the bird to several angry snipers on the White House roof. I thought I would take this moment to address why public schools (and most charter and private schools, too) do not teach basic philosophy as an elective for high school students.

Because I don’t like getting up, I decided not to ask anyone and looked it up with my phone. This is what Google had for me:

Reasons why philosophy is not taught to high schoolers:

  1. Philosophy is a large and vague topic, and the state does not have the resources to make it available in public schools (due to reason number two).
  2. High school classes are designed to be easy to get an A in these days because more and more high schoolers are unable to grasp basic concepts like Pythagorean’s theorem or basic grammar skills. The school wants these young men and women to feel successful, even if it means they end up not knowing as much (or in some cases zero) technical skill.


‘There has been a dumbing down process in the school system for over 30 years. Today, too many high school graduates can’t make change, identify countries on a map, don’t know how to measure, or speak grammatically correct English. Some graduates are unable to form a complete thought.’ (forum writer Anton Artaud)


Because of students’ failure to understand basic concepts, having a philosophy elective seems ridiculous because philosophy requires the student to have at least a basic understanding of the English language, as well as rational and deductive thought. As one teacher stated, “This year I dropped from High cap to normal and I was shocked. They needed help with the most basic of things, and some did not know where Spain was.”  (Forum writer builderofhappiness)

In short, the school system knows the kids aren’t trained, or doesn’t care enough to make teaching a philosophy class worthwhile.

  1. Some school districts or the board of education is afraid of students learning philosophy because it introduces foreign ideas into the minds of the students that could cause threatening behavior (such as thinking), and might open students up to a wide variety of side effects such as:
    1. Religious doubt and questioning of traditional beliefs
    2. Mistrust of the authority figures whether religious, scientific, political, social, etc.

Those authority figures might find it harder to stay in power.


“While the government may not be aggressively trying to block our free-thinking ability, there certainly is a trend to be noticed. Collectively; government, corporations, businesses, and any organization with an economic interest, simply do not find a free thinking and particularly aware individual to be of any use to them. Governments want people that submit, trust and follow. Corporations, businesses or any other organization with an economic interest want people that will bring them profit, which usually means people that will fall for advertisement. Currently, the main infrastructures of the United States (aside from society itself) thrive off of ignorance, gullibility, and blind faith.” (Forum writer floW)


Back to me, the snarky Irish reporter, Elliot Barnhill. Thank you, myself. I am currently in the ER having somehow lost both of my middle fingers. I want to continue to take this opportunity (since I obviously have nothing better to do) to take the other side (Something Fox News does once every century). Here are the counter opinions, the ones that support philosophy being taught in high schools, in case that was unclear.


  1. Philosophy is the study of thought (It teaches the student how to think). One of the side effects of being a philosophy student is learning how to think rationally, something that is definitely missing (scroll up three paragraphs) in our school system.
  2. Have you ever had someone disagree with you? Well, then you probably know at least one person that just will not willingly admit to being wrong (If that person is your child, I am sorry). But you get my point right? Let’s extrapolate that scenario. Someone is disagreeing with you, only this time, neither of you are in your kitchen and the argument isn’t about whether or not vegetarian meat is meat (it’s not). No, this time you are in a room of people in ties and suits. You’re in the senate building. And you’re not arguing over fake meat, but whether cannabis should be legal in the United States of America. Suddenly you’re needing to be thinking rationally, and it suddenly washes over you that most kids nowadays, the ones who will be sitting in the same seat you are (hypothetically), in about thirty years, won’t be able to tell you which state they’re from, or why they want to do what they want to do. They will argue endlessly and emotively because nobody knows HOW TO THINK. They’re so busy was knowing that they are ‘absolutely right’ that they don’t realize that the other side of the argument might have a good point.


‘Indeed, philosophy can do a great deal to lessen the anger that is growing like a cancerous tumor in modern America…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.’ (freelance Huffington Post writer Michael Shammas)


  1.        Our identity has become something that we let other people define for us (AKA how many followers my feed has, or how many likes and shares i can get on a post). This is especially present in the cultures of high school. Anyone besides Betsy Devos could tell you this is true. You have groups because nobody wants to be rejected. The bros hang with their bros and the D&D club wears glasses and/or converse shoes (any color but black). The black shoes and black clothes (possible makeup: always black) and fingerless gloves plus a game of cards vs humanity would identify itself as the gothic kids. Bright colors (flannel shirts over t shirt for guys), trendy clothes, ‘grownup’ earrings and usually pretty good grades are known as the popular kids (also possible tats or other piercings). Everyone has their group. And they find what identity they can in a homogenous clan of like minders who don’t challenge you to think about yourself as being little pieces of each of the afore mentioned groups (or none of them) as well as the many other facets to your being. Philosophy is all about introspection, and to find something in yourself you must find yourself to begin with. The way humans choose to become is strictly based upon their knowledge and experience and high school is when most people trace back the beginnings of their ‘them-ness’. If philosophy could be taught to these confused but eager to find something people, we would make a better society simply because we know ourselves. And when we know ourselves, we can start to know others.


Sources: why phL should be taught;  3-6-17

Why phL is not taught;