New IB philosophy course open to all students

IB PHILOSOPHY: Asked what makes his class unique, Strand said, “We think.” Critical thinking is one of the foundational skills learned in IB Philosophy.

By Randy Mancilla

The school now offers IB Philosophy, a new course this year in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. However, the course is available to all students. Only half of the 36 person class is currently made up of IB students.

Philosophy has been taught on and off, most recently by former English teacher and current Administrative Director Nicholas Weber. Weber was also formerly the coordinator of the IB program. Currently, the course is taught by social studies teacher Colin Strand.

“Philosophy is a really dense subject. It takes careful planning to understand what readings I want to use as a part of the course. It takes a lot of time. It’s like a puzzle you have to put together,” Strand said.

Some notable philosophers that the class will study are people such as Socrates, Xunzi, John Locke, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Mary Anne Warren. Strand’s curriculum will span time and geography.

The study of philosophy is in essence an attempt to understand the world. It asks questions of theory and more practical discussions like ethics. Philosophy also teaches students how to develop their own positions and craft good arguments as well as evaluating and resolving larger societal ethical issues.

“The point of philosophy is to become a better thinker, to be able to be a critical thinker, to be able to see complicated issues from various viewpoints. It’s to be able to form arguments, that are sound arguments. It’s about understanding that there might not be one right answer, instead there might be multiple right answers based on different logical positions a person is taking,” Strand said.

This class is an IB course because it perfectly matches what the IB program hopes for its students. The IB program’s focus is inquiry. Philosophy is an inquiry-based class. 

“Philosophy examines human nature so carefully that it will hopefully give us a life worth living,” Strand said. 

Students in this class or wishing to take this class can expect questions such as whether the main human pleasures in life are a worthwhile measure of morality and whether it is rational to seek a life of only pleasure and avoid pain at all cost. 

This is merely a small taste of what to expect in a philosophy classroom. 

Although being a philosopher is not a common occupation, there is value in taking the class. According to Strand, those who take philosophy may go on to become lawyers, as in a courtroom the entire job of a lawyer is to make a sound argument. As a lawyer you must make a valid argument that utilizes critical thinking and make a convincing case to the jury. 

“I love IB Philosophy because it gives us new perspectives on life that we can apply to our everyday lives to be happier and live more successfully. The class also gives us a chance to use the material we learn to make our own ideas and discuss them together in class,” senior Gavin Trainor said.