Science Standards, Philosophy Education, and Cross-Cutting Concepts

The next generation science standards are out.  These standards include a number of things besides mere knowledge of scientific facts.  These are called cross-cutting concepts.  Cross-cutting concepts are the things related to the practice of science that are not strictly science facts to learn.

The thing is, many of these cross-cutting concepts don’t end up being especially scientific.  The cross-cutting concepts involve things like “engage in argument from evidence” and “critically read a text,” etc.  They also involve teaching the students a particular philosophy of science.  One is to be taught a realist interpretation of the findings of science, among other things.

It is my contention that, if the things recommended in the next generation science standards are real goals we should have for high school students, then we should teach philosophy courses at the high school level.

Teaching students how to reason and reason well from evidence is something that is primarily and ideally the office of a philosopher.  This is why logic and basic reasoning classes are taught in philosophy departments.  Philosophers are familiar with the kinds of reasoning that need to be taught and the problems people encounter in reasoning.  Further, philosophy instruction in high school would uniquely position the philosophy teachers to teach the aspects of the philosophy of science that science teachers might simply give uncritically or teach without knowing the significant debates in the area.

High school education should include philosophical education.

Peace be with you.
-JS

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