A great piece in the Boston Review on Citizen Philosophers in Brazil, where since 2008, philosophy instruction has been compulsory in all high schools. A philosophy teacher in Salvador, a virtually African city in the country’s Northeast, explains its value:
The contrast between the new luxury hotels along the beach and Itapuã’s overcrowded streets gives rise to questions about equality and justice. Children kicking around a can introduce a discussion about democracy: football is one of the few truly democratic practices here; success depends on merit, not class privilege. Moving between philosophy and practice, the students can revise their views in light of what Plato, Hobbes, or Locke had to say about equality, justice, and democracy and discuss their own roles as political agents.
As one can imagine, not everyone thinks this is a great idea in practice. But what a bold idea for building a thoughtful and critical-thinking citizenry. Would be great if someone designed a rigorous study to test the impact of studying philosophy on citizen attitudes and participation.