Volume 40, Issue 3, September 2017
Everyone Just Has Their Own Opinion
Assessing Strategies for Reacting to Students’ Scepticism about Philosophy
This article discusses strategies for responding to students’ metaphilosophical scepticism. It includes responses to a survey which asked philosophy teachers about their experiences with various forms of scepticism in their classrooms. In specifying the phenomenon, I point out features which often characterise introductory philosophy courses both in secondary schools and at the university level. I argue that these features make student scepticism particularly challenging. Secondly, I describe a central objective of doing philosophy, and highlight three basic pedagogical principles. I argue that this objective and these principles should function as criteria for assessing strategies which teachers might adopt in reaction to metaphilosophical scepticism. Thirdly, I discuss several such strategies with reference to the proposed principles and the features which are characteristic of introductory courses. I argue that especially strategies which encourage students to philosophise themselves are recommendable. Furthermore, I point out some opportunities which student scepticism offers for enriching classroom discussions and for deepening students’ understanding of philosophy.