Course to Teach University Students to Engage Philosophically with High Schoolers


The University of Pennsylvania is offering a course that will teach undergraduates how to teach philosophy to high school students.

The course, “Public Philosophy & Civic Engagement,” is one of the university’s “Academically Based Community Service” courses.

According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, the course will be taught by Michael Vazquez, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Philosophy who is also a member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Project for Philosophy for the Young. In his course,

students will spend a part of each class figuring out how to distill complex philosophical ideas to high school students in an exciting way, and they will then go to teach philosophy in a Philadelphia high school once a week. According to the course syllabus, students will learn and teach topics from moral and political philosophy that relate to living in a democratic society, such as civic duties and obligations, patriotism, propaganda, and civil disobedience. 

“We’re going to let the high school students dictate the sort of questions we want them to ask,” Vazquez said, adding that the Penn students will develop lesson plans that are shaped by high school students’ interests. By the end of the semester, Vazquez added, the high school students will write philosophical op-eds based on what they learned from the Penn students, and they will hopefully be able to publish these op-eds and present them at Penn. 

In the Daily Pennsylvanian article, Mr. Vazquez credits University of Pennsylvania professor of philosophy and education Karen Detelfsen with inspiration for the course. Previously Mr. Vazquez had been a teaching assistant for a course of Profesor Detelfsen’s in which students taught philosophy to middle school students.

You can learn more about the course here.


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