Volume 27, Issue 1, March 2004
Making a Place for Practical Wisdom in the Classroom
Drawing upon Aristotle’s understanding of phronesis, this paper argues for the importance of listening to older people who have practical wisdom. The paper begins by responding to the objection that practical wisdom is not age-related, arguing that while advanced age is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for having practical wisdom, there is a correlation between the two. Next, the paper turns to the relevance of practical wisdom in the philosophy classroom, specifically with whether wisdom can be taught, and, if it can be taught, what is the best method for teaching it. After concluding that practical wisdom is age-related, something cultivated over a lifetime, and something that is possible to develop in the classroom, the paper describes an assignment where students engage a phronimos (a person of advanced age whom students consider has a high level of practical wisdom).