philosophy critical thinking

Why Study Philosophy in Middle and High School? Critical Thinking on Steroids

Philosophy is the foundation of critical thinking – the study of how to think. It teaches reasoning, problem solving, and logical analysis. So why isn’t philosophy, in an age-appropriate form, at the center of every child’s school experience?

Perhaps we are so accustomed to a learning-as-memorizing, intelligence-as-facts paradigm that we can’t imagine young people doing something as challenging and deep as philosophy. Not only does this set a low bar, it also fails to recognize a basic developmental fact – namely, that teens and preteens crave and embrace any and all opportunities to think deeply and critically.

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Factory model education

Resurrecting the Walking Dead: Creating Zombie-Free Spaces to Bring Post-Covid Learners Back to Life

As students and schools dust off their Covid cobwebs and prepare to return to in-person instruction, now is a good time to think about what we’re returning to. 

The system we’re used to was designed to teach future factory workers to be compliant (and passably literate) during the Industrial Revolution. The factory-style classroom, with its obsessive concern for efficiency and standardization, continues to churn out dispassionate worksheet doers and bubble fillers while failing to nurture genuine intellectual or creative energy. Our adherence to this broken system is stultifying our workforce (and electorate!) at a moment when we desperately need innovators, disruptors, and game changers. 

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Student Agency

Rethinking Classroom Leadership: Student-led Learning Unlocks Passion, Depth, and Creativity

Imagine a classroom where students — in respectful collaboration with their teachers — weigh in on the direction and content of the curriculum. A class where learners speak up about which novel will be read, which historical issues will be explored, or when they’re truly ready to move on to a new math topic. A class where students are empowered to infuse assignments with authenticity and relevance, where “why are we learning this?” is understood as a sign of active learning rather than as a challenge to authority.

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Class Size Matters…And That’s Just Part of the Magic

What is an Areté Seminar? With a 1:6 teacher-to-student ratio, an Areté Seminar is so much more than just a small class. Built on a foundation of open communication and mutual respect, our Seminars represent a shared goal: to create a place where profound reflection and innovative risk-taking are encouraged and celebrated.

Instead of competing for attention and points, Areté students engage in thoughtful questioning, proposing counterarguments, tightening logic, and working together to deepen and expand discourse. Our students learn to communicate clearly, think critically, and speak confidently.

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Symposium Presentation

The Areté Symposium: Embracing Critical Thinking As A Joyful (and Welcome) Challenge

The important thing is not just knowing what something is; the important bit is knowing why something is the way it is and how it works and why it matters. It’s about being thoughtful and disciplined in your learning so you can think about what you know and in a meaningful and original way (1).

This excerpt, from a widely-circulated essay entitled “What Professors Expect From You,” highlights the supposed difference between a fact-and-skills-based high school education and the deeper, more inferential challenges of the university. Spot on in capturing what deeper learning should look like, the tract has no doubt inspired a few precocious students, while perhaps terrifying a handful of others.

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Learning Anxiety

Creating Self-Motivated, Confident Learners Without Anxiety

We hear it all the time: all learners have their own unique “greatness.” Indeed, students need their own combination of right things to flourish – the right mentors, the right peers, the right culture, and — most important — the right educational environment.

While traditional schools puzzlingly claim to provide the right mix of factors for every student, experts continue to lament the one-size-fits-all nature of most classrooms and curricula.

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