I am a 74 year old former teacher who now works part-time as a driving instructor for a private driving school in the western suburbs of Chicago. In general, this driving school attracts 15 and 16 year old academically interested students who prefer to drive outside of school. This private sector option allows these students to fill their respective schedules with honors classes (not Driver’s Ed) that increase their chances of getting into the college of their choice after high school.
In short, I ride with a lot of really bright kids from 6 different public high schools and 4 different private high schools, a large percentage of whom are straight A students. And each of these children, in their own way, is very interested in exploring the various issues involved in living a life worth living. But ironically, only one of these nine highly regarded high schools offers a class in the area specifically designed to explore what it means to live a worthwhile life — philosophy.
And in this one high school, philosophy is offered purely as an elective. This means that only a very small percentage of the students of this school ever go from eyeball to eyeball, wrestling with the most profound and influential thinkers in history, from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle to Aquinas, Descartes, Rousseau, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Kant and Hegel Kierkegaard, Marx and Nietzsche to name a few. While the children at the other eight schools have no chance to learn anything about these intellectual giants other than their names in historical context.
A simple solution to a profound problem
But luckily for the kids I ride with, I have an easy fix. Allow me to introduce you to a podcast entitled PHILOSOPHIZE THIS. Seattle-based producer/narrator Steven West does an absolutely spectacular job of translating some very complicated philosophical concepts into plain English. He speaks to the current generation in their terms. He also does a great job of providing a context in which these iconic figures can be understood and fully appreciated for their contribution to human history.
West has been producing his wonderful (free on request) podcast since 2013. It currently contains nearly 150 25-30 minute episodes. The context he provides makes each episode stand on its own. That means you can listen to them in chronological order. Or you can pick and choose at random and still end up with a wealth of knowledge that very few high school or college students in this nation will ever actually make use of.
It will make your wheels spin…
I admit, in my own case, “Philosophize This” borders on addictive. I can hardly put the damn thing down. But more importantly for this communiqué, any student who finds the time to give Steven West’s podcast a fair shot will be introduced to critical thinking experiences that are being ignored in the name of STEM by modern education systems across the country. In contrast, West will make your mental wheels spin in ways you’ve never experienced before. I promise! And because so few students will ever take advantage of these highly insightful opportunities, you’ll automatically become the smartest kid in your class!
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