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Apr 7, 2006 4:10 pm

What Days Are For

Our political and cultural discourse is so irrational that it's a pleasure to be able to acknowledge a genuine contribution to it. This short letter from today's Trenton Times made my philosophical and pedagogical day:
Children in today's public schools are not challenged to think enough. Yes, they are learning masses of information, but deep thinking is limited. What is taught involves concrete topics. However, thought is much different -- it involves rapidly changing notions that revolutionize the world.

Why not instill in our future an awareness of various philosophical questions, new theories and developing world conflicts? Some of these topics are touched upon in school, but not nearly as heavily as they should be.

Schools should discuss the meaning of life. Too many kids go without structure or guidance at home. Imagine what being guided to think could do for them. Finding a purpose and a cause in life can turn kids away from drugs, alcohol and violence. Imagine the power our public school system has; it can have a positive effect.

It is time to take action. A course on general philosophy would prove more beneficial than a specific English class or history class. As a first step, I ask the Hamilton school board to create a philosophy class, not only for the enhancement of high school studies, but also for the advancement of our society as a thinking group of people.


I'm reminded, on reading Hanson's admirable letter, of Philip Larkin's 1964 poem"Days"--from which I get the title of this post:
What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.
A first-grader could understand Larkin's language, but how many adults can understand the meaning?

Better yet, how many adults can answer the question--without essential reliance on the priest or the doctor?

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