HSHSP Ep 161: Why Teach Philosophy in Homeschool High School? Interview with Dr. Micah Tillman
Homeschool graduate and philosopher, Dr. Micah Tillman joins his mom for a discussion on why and how teens should study Philosophy.
Micah homeschooled with his siblings from 3rd grade through graduation. He learned some important independent learning skills in homeschool high school as he grew academically beyond his mom’s skills. This helped him be successful in college while his peers struggled with the self-directed learning necessary there.
Micah also loved the co-ops, youth groups, band and sports that he was part of in his homeschool high school years.
One of the pivotal courses in his homeschool high school years was his World History and Philosophy course in our homeschool co-op. This course was brought about by Micah and his peers asking deep *what’s-the-meaning-of-life* questions.
At college Micah majored in Computer Science at Messiah College because he wanted to develop video games but he loved Philosophy so much that he filled all his electives with Philosophy courses (especially loved the courses by Dr. Robin Collins). As he neared graduation, Micah realized the job market for Computer Science was not as interesting as he hoped (no video game design jobs available at that time). So, he decided to go to graduate school and study what he really loved (teaching- which he learned he loved as a student ambassador for Messiah College, Philosophy, and writing which he did for fun).
So Micah went to grad school at West Chester University and loved modern philosophy there, then on to Catholic University to study the traditional philosophers, world-wide philosophy and the history of Christian thought.
After graduation, Micah stared a popular podcast, Top 40 Philosophy, has taught Philosophy at several colleges and is now a teacher at Stanford University’s prestigious Online High School. Micah’s students are scattered around the world. The core curriculum is 4 Philosophy classes (for instance, the science classes Micah teaches his 9th graders are Scientific Reasoning (Philosophy). The program takes students beyond STEM to becoming the thinkers who will someday drive the culture. The goal is to teach their students to teach students to think about their whole lives and living them well.
He also developed a video game for his students to teach classical logic. You can download this for free on his website.
Micah’s goal as a teacher is not to develop professional philosopher, rather, he wants everyone to *love wisdom* (which is what Philosophy means). Teaching his students to love wisdom, he helps them to become aware of themselves and how they interact well with others and the world around them. He teaches them that Philosophy is about *Thinking clearly about life so that you can live well*.
As teens learn to think philosophically, they will have the skills to live better. Teens tend to have *teenage angst* and ask tough questions. They wrestle with who they are, how to be friends, what they like, how they are alike and different than their parents, what to do with cliques, what kind of person they want to be, why things in the world are fair or not.
For homeschool moms who have no background in Philosophy, but want their teens to have an experience with Philosophy so that they can think clearly about life so that they can live well, there’s hope! Micah has 2 Philosophy texts for teens that many teens have reported are their favorite courses in homeschool high school.
Philosophy is the process of thinking clearly so that you can live well. One way philosophers think clearly is asking questions. The 4 basic questions that philosophers ask about everything are:
- What exists?
- How we know?
- What should we do about it?
The text is written especially for homeschooling high schoolers. It is accessible and has a sense of fun.
Parents are sometimes uncomfortable with their students studying Philosophy. Teens ask hard questions. If they study Philosophy, will they ask even more (and harder) questions? Micah explains that God gave us minds, and that we need to care for them by using them well. We do that by training our minds to think well (mind-fitness, just like our bodies need physical fitness). This kind of fitness helps teens go into the adult world with the strength and tools to face the confusing mass of ideas in the world outside the home. Philosophy in 4 Questions helps teens take their angst and develop strength of mind to go from angst to wisdom.
This is a gentle introduction to the history of Philosophy (that Micah studied in high school) then added to while he was in college. History and Philosophy of the Western World is a World History credit for the transcript. In a light-hearted manner, homeschool high schoolers learn about history and the philosophers that influenced history.
Check out Micah’s website MicahTillman.com and check out his writing and educational video game projects, including Chambergon Logic (where teens can earn a Logic credit in a fun, free format.)
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