At first glance, an advanced placement (AP) high school philosophy (HZT4U ) class may not seem to have obvious merit. However, the value of being exposed to philosophy during high school, in college, in careers in varied fields, as well as in everyday life, can't be overstated. The study of philosophy goes beyond just learning about the work of philosophers and their questions. Philosophy applies to the questions you may have about your own life, the lives of others, and the world at large.
What Do You Learn in an AP Philosophy Class in High School?
Blyth Academy offers the high school course (HZT4U) Philosophy: Questions and Theories for students in grade 12. This course has five units, which are:
- Unit One: Research and Inquiry Skills & Philosophical Foundations. This unit of AP high school philosophy held online at Blyth Academy includes conducting research, learning inquiry skills, and discussing the foundations of philosophical thought.During this course of study, you'll learn about a variety of introductory topics in philosophy to build a solid foundation for further research. You'll learn about the predominant schools of philosophical thought, main branches of philosophy, and some of the most enduring questions that philosophers have been asking for centuries. In this first unit, you'll also discover the nature of philosophy and develop an understanding of the components of a philosophical argument. Some of the most basic lines of inquiry in philosophy involve the nature of reality, such as:
- How we can be confident of what is true?
- How does the influence of society impact philosophical thinking?
- Unit Two: Metaphysics. This unit introduces you to the study of Metaphysics, a branch of philosophy concerned with the big questions of human existence, such as explorations of known reality and an inquiry into what exists. Central questions of metaphysics include:
- What is the meaning of life?
- What's the self?
- Do we have free will?
- Unit Three: Ethics. Ethics focuses on the study of right and wrong, good and evil. It asks questions such as:
- What does it mean to be a good person?
- What constitutes a good life?
- Are ethics objective or subjective?
- Are there moral absolutes, or are ethics open to personal interpretation?
- What is an ethical society?
- Unit Four: Social and Political Philosophy. This branch of philosophy explores questions such as:
- What makes a just society?
- Do all citizens deserve equal treatment and equal rights under the law?
- Who should be tasked with making such decisions?
- Does a government have the right to curtail the individual freedoms of its citizens?
- Unit Five: Aesthetics. The study of aesthetics asks questions about beauty, art, and artistic taste. Topics covered include:
- What social value does art have?
- Are aesthetic judgments subjective, such as "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"?
- Are aesthetic judgments objective, as in the case of art critics arguing the merits of one piece, artist, or type of art over another?
What Are the Benefits of Taking a Philosophy Class in High School?
Taking a high school philosophy class is beneficial for you because it teaches you about philosophy and gives you a framework for how to think about any other topic of study. It's important to expose yourself to philosophy and critical thinking before becoming set in your ways. You're probably more open-minded at this time in your life and can learn new ways of thinking, analyzing information, and questioning your deeply-held belief systems. Philosophy challenges you to go beyond basing your beliefs on your opinions, encouraging you to use logic as an objective basis for your viewpoints.
Philosophy also helps you to work out your ideas thoroughly. Philosophy's focus on clear thinking, reading, and writing translates to strengthening your understanding and work in all your other academic disciplines. Exposure to philosophy at the high school level gives you a significant advantage when identifying arguments, debating their merits, and crafting your arguments. The self-examination and central questions of philosophy are likely to be appealing to you as you're forming your own identity. The universal questions of philosophy may personally speak to you in your search for your life's meaning.
The core skills and values you can develop by studying philosophy include creative thinking, respect, active listening, mindful speech, self-correction, and teamwork. Your ability to write papers for your courses or answer essay questions on tests will be strengthened. The skills acquired in the study of philosophy will also serve you well if you get into public speaking, participate in a debate team, or run for student government. When it's time to write essays for college entrance, your skills can make you stand out from other applicants.
What Can You Do if You Study Philosophy?
Studying philosophy in high school can prepare you for many undergraduate fields of study. If you wish to go into any humanities discipline, the underpinnings of learning philosophical thinking will be highly beneficial. Having a foundation in philosophy is helpful in several majors, including history, English, sociology, comparative literature, and pre-law. Studying the philosophy of ethics is also beneficial for pre-med or psychology degrees. You also may become so enamored with philosophy that you choose to make it your major as a foundation for teaching, law, or another humanities career.
By now, you may have a better understanding of how studying philosophy in high school at Blyth Academy can help you, not only throughout the rest of your time in high school but also as you go on to college and your future career. Philosophy can be a great asset to you in all your intellectual endeavors and contribute to being a well-rounded, thoughtful individual with an understanding of ethics, logic, and critical thinking. As a foundational field of study, it's invaluable to your growth academically and personally.
Blyth Academy's Philosophy: Questions and Theories course is designed for grade 12 university-bound students. Learn more about the 11 locations across Ontario for Blyth Academy as well as the self-paced Blyth Academy Online through an informational session. Blyth offers engaging teachers and small class sizes to focus on individualized learning for grades four through 12.