Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My New Philosophy

In Humanities today we covered Plato's theory of Ideas.

I talked them through the Allegory of the Cave (using an overhead projector and Indonesian Shadow Puppets) (Because I'm always looking for an excuse to whip out my Indonesian Shadow Puppets, that's why).

We talked about it in concrete forms (horse v. Horse), then brainstormed a list of non-concrete capital-letter concepts (Love, Death, Victory, Freedom, Beauty, etc.).

The students each picked one of those capitalized concepts and tried to write a description of what the ideal, perfect version of that concept would be (I am aware of the irony and the impossibility of such a task, but the kids needed a writing break).

Then I pulled out my red-polka-dot turn-to-talk ball and we had a modest Socratic Seminar about their thoughts. It went pretty well, for such a reluctant-to-talk class. At one point, the group had decided that

1) an ideal Life is happy,
2) Happiness is overcoming challenges or obstacles,
3) Death is ideal when you don't know it's coming, is quick, and comes after great accomplishments,
and that
4) Victory is when you are the best you'll ever be, but that moment is fleeting.

"So," I said, "does that mean we should shoot gold medalists at the Olympics' awards ceremonies?"

It caused much amusement and astonishment. As do all of my good teacher-comments.

Also discussed today:
Can Honesty exist if there is only one person involved?
Should Ray Gosling be in jail?
If a tree falls in a forest and only the eagle who dropped said tree is around to hear it, did the tree really fall?

"I'm so confused!" one student wailed at one point, dropping his head to the desk.

"Good for you!" I exclaimed, clapping my hands together in delight. "You'd make Socrates proud!"

Tomorrow, Utopia!

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