[Philosophy] Course Review

Richard O'Donovan rodonovan at fhs.vic.edu.au
Tue Feb 21 14:28:27 EST 2006

Well folks Philosophy is finally up for review.  I'm keen to see certain changes, I wonder what you all think... this will be our only chance to get a say for god knows how long, and the timelines are very tight.  Here are some of my thoughts;
I think we should dump Aristotle - too long, too rambling, too confusing for the kids (as if Gorgias isn't bad enough!)
I think we should probably dump King - it's essentially dogma without any sense of an argument and doesn't really fit with the other texts in my view.
Murdoch, as ever, remains a mystery for most people.  Surely there are other female philosophers who could be added who can be readily understood.
In unit 4 I think that maybe Kuhn could be chopped in half - or a better section from his book chosen that actually deals with Popper more directly.
I would have thought a more representative piece of Descartes might be selected; perhaps his reflections on radical doubt etc.? and I'd much prefer students didn't have to memorise all of the objections in Turing.
I think we should put in something about logic - just the basic syllogisms, modus ponens/tollens and their fallacious forms - this would help put the emphasis back on argument analysis and less on text minutia regurgitation.
I think we have to change the exam structure/approach.  Rote questions are hopeless or worse.  I wonder if we should shift towards something like Literature where students have to write two essays focussing on particular text extracts.
For me the vast majority of class time is taken up with going through the texts and explaining the various twists, distractions and background context, leaving precious little time for any philosophy.  I always thought philosophy was about thinking critically and analysing arguments/positions, there doesn't seem to be enough time to do this properly or in any depth because of the nature of the texts.  I have nothing against reading the originals, but I think there is too little consistency between them in terms of addressing the same themes, or too little accessibility to the language for students coming to Yr 12 without any Yr 11 background.  And the exam sets the expectation that students should have near photographic recall of them all.
So, the more views we get going the more chances we have of getting some positive changes to the course.

More information about the philosophy mailing list