How to Become the Smartest Kid in Your High School Class!

Reference & EducationCollege & University

  • Author Rick Osbourne
  • Published December 21, 2020
  • Word count 557

I’m a 74-year-old former teacher who now works part-time as a drivers’ education instructor for a private sector driving school located in the western suburbs of Chicago. Generally speaking, this driving school attracts 15 and 16-year-old, academically inclined students who prefer learning to drive outside of the school day. This private-sector option allows these students to load their respective class schedules up with honors classes (not drivers' ed) that, upon high school graduation, increases their odds of being accepted in the college of their choice.

In short, I drive with lots of really bright kids from 6 different public high schools and 4 different private high schools, a large percentage of whom are straight A students. And every one of these kids, in their own unique way, is acutely interested in exploring the various issues involved with living a life that’s worth living. But ironically, only one of these ten highly regarded west suburban high schools offers a class in the field that’s specifically designed to explore what it means to live a life that’s worth living – namely the field of Philosophy.

And in this one high school, philosophy is offered strictly as an elective. This means only a very small percentage of that school’s students ever go eyeball to eyeball and wrestle with history’s most profound and influential thinkers ranging from Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle through Aquinas, Descartes, Rousseau, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Kant, Hegel Kierkegaard, Marx and Nietzsche, just to name a few. While kids at the other nine schools have zero chance of learning anything about these intellectual giants other than their names in an historical context.

A Simple Solution to a Profound Problem

But fortunately for the kids I drive with, I have a simple solution. Allow me to introduce you to a podcast entitled “PHILOSOPHIZE THIS.” The Seattle based producer/narrator Steven West does an absolutely spectacular job of translating some very complicated philosophical concepts into plain English. He speaks to the current generation in their terms. He also does a great job of providing a context in which these iconic figures can be understood and fully appreciated for their contributions to the history of the human race.

West has been producing his wonderful (free for the asking) podcast since 2013. It currently features almost 150 twenty-five to thirty-minute episodes. The context he provides allows each episode to stand on its own. This means that you can listen to them in chronological order. Or you can pick and choose randomly and still finish up with a wealth of knowledge to which very few high school or college students in this nation will ever truly avail themselves.

It’ll Make Your Wheels Turn…

I confess, in my own case, “Philosophize This” borders on being addictive. I can hardly put the bloody thing down. But more importantly for this communique, any student who finds the time to give Steven West’s podcast a fair shot, will be introduced to critical thinking experiences that, in the name of STEM, are being ignored by modern educational systems across the nation. In contrast, West will cause your mental wheels to turn in ways that you’ve never experienced before. I promise! And, because so few students will ever avail themselves to these extremely insightful possibilities, you’ll automatically become the smartest kid in your class by default!

Rick Osbourne is a former public school teacher who has spent the past 20 years of his life writing for a living. His primary interests include politics (he's an independent), psychology (in particular Dr. Erich Fromm), economics (a Center for Economic and Social Justice/CESJ.ORG board member), and childhood obesity prevention (www.pullyourownweight.org). He's married and resides in Naperville, IL with his wife of almost 48 years, Pamela. He can be reached via email at osbourne.rick@gmail.com

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