President of Ireland Speaks at Youth Philosophy Awards Ceremony

“Too many policy lobbyists have, often unknowingly, unthinkingly perhaps, accepted a narrow and utilitarian view of… education—one that suggests we exist to be made useful—which leads to a great loss of the capacity to critically evaluate, question and challenge.”

These are the words of Ireland’s president, Michael D. Higgins, speaking earlier this month at the second annual Irish Young Philosopher Awards ceremony (as he did last year).

The Irish Times reports that President Higgins urged caution about an overly instrumentalist view of the value of education: “talk of a knowledge society and the demand to enable our young people to meet its needs has at times in the discourse on education, come to dominate our view as to the ultimate aim of a secondary school education. We need to be careful.”

photo by Conor Healy

This year’s winner of the Irish Young Philosopher Award is 16-year-old Lauren Doyle, of Mount Sackville Secondary School, for her project, “Why is nature beautiful and why do we destroy it?” Making use of Aristotle’s moral philosophy, Ms. Doyle argues that “while people generally had affection for the natural world we are becoming ‘less attached’ to it and ‘more heavily dependent on devices that give a distorted view of nature’. This helped to explain ‘why we destroy what we love,'” reports The Times.

Related: The Growth of Pre-College Philosophy In Ireland

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