Teaching Philosophy in High School

In 1994 the OAC (Grade 13) Philosophy course was introduced to Ontario high schools, making Ontario the first and only educational jurisdiction in North America to have philosophy as part of its official secondary school curriculum.

In 2001-2002, with the introduction of the new secondary school curriculum in Ontario, two new philosophy courses were introduced to replace the OAC, one at the grade 12 level ("Philosophy: Questions and Theories") and one at the grade 11 level ("Philosophy: The Big Questions").

Interest in these courses has grown rapidly since the early 1990's. In 2004-2005 according to the Ontario Ministry of Education statistics, over 30,000 secondary school students were enrolled in the courses, in over 300 high schools across the province.

In 1999, the Ontario Philosophy Teachers' Association was founded to serve and represent the interests of high school philosophy teachers at the local, provincial and national levels, as well as to host annual conferences for high school philosophy teachers. Two new high-school level philosophy textbooks have also recently been published: Philosophy: Questions and Theories, (McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2002), for the grade 12 course, and Philosophy: The Big Questions (Canadian Scholars Press, 2003), for the grade 11 course.

In the summer of 2007, the Ontario Ministry of Education designated philosophy as a so-called teachable subject. This welcome development has three consequences:

  1. undergraduate students with philosophy degrees will soon be eligible to apply to the province's Faculties of Education (for the Bachelor of Education degree) on the strength of the undergraduate philosophy degree alone;
  2. Faculties of Education will soon be able to offer courses (and practica) on teaching philosophy at the secondary school level; and
  3. Faculties of Education will soon be able to offer "Advanced Qualifications" courses in Philosophy to already certified teachers who wish to upgrade their skills so that they may teach philosophy. Many curricular and staffing changes will have to be made in the Faculties of Education to implement these new developments.

Any Philosophy Majors or Minors who are interested in becoming high school teachers, and who would be interested in teaching philosophy in high school or in joining the Ontario Philosophy Teacher's Association, should contact Professor David Jopling.