New class introduces students to philosophy


By Riley Langefeld, copy editor
When junior Keilyn Howard was learning about senior year English classes for the 2017-18 school year, one specific course caught her attention. Hoping to expand her worldview and her knowledge of psychology, she opted to take Philosophical Literature.
“I don’t really know that much about different philosophies. I’m just excited to learn about philosophy as a whole,” Howard said. “I don’t necessarily agree with some philosophers. … It’s going to be interesting to hear different points of view and maybe even take a new stance on philosophy. I’m excited.”
The course is being introduced to Prospect for the first time in the coming school year. English teacher Matt Love will be teaching it.
“It’s a course that allows us to ask the really big questions that people have been asking forever,” Love said. “We look at how different philosophers and thinkers throughout history and across all different cultures have tackled those questions.”
Love taught the course during his time at Elk Grove High School in the early 2000s. After the previous teacher retired, he redesigned the curriculum and spent several years teaching it. More recently, he has been working with English and Fine Arts Division Head Adam Levinson to bring the course to Prospect.
The process of introducing a new course normally requires significant time and effort, but Love was able to streamline the process because the course already existed within the district. He drew on his own curriculum and used old student work to showcase the success of the class.
The course will cover an expansive selection of source material, with assignments including readings from science textbooks, Christian literature, and the works of Greek philosophers. Love believes that a wide philosophical range is required to encourage a complete understanding and informed views.
“It’s hopefully a class where you literally look at the world differently after you’ve taken it. And then you have a lot of different foundations and perspectives to draw from,” Love said. “The discussions are amazing. [The course] absolutely will be heavily discussion-based.”
On a typical day in Philosophical Literature, students will analyze and discuss the previous night’s reading then shift discussion to comparisons between the reading and other philosophical points of view relating to the same topic. Love characterizes the coursework as intellectually challenging and interesting. He believes that Prospect students will thrive in this kind of learning environment, and he looks forward to its introduction.
“I have found my students here to be intellectually curious,” Love said. “I find that Prospect students certainly don’t mind working hard and reading challenging things if there’s an intellectual path — if you get to talk about really cool stuff.”
In Love’s vision for the course, students will move beyond the basic study of the literature and begin to synthesize their own perspectives and philosophies.
“Students should leave with a really nice foundation of intellectual thought throughout history,” Love said. “But that’s just the academic part of it. … More importantly, I want students to apply that and consider how they look at the world and their place in it. Learning other people’s philosophical ideas is one thing, but using those ideas to form your own philosophical viewpoint — that’s really the ultimate goal.”