Need for philosophy on secondary curriculum


Madam, - Eamon Maher presents a most relevant message for "post-Catholic" Ireland, pointing to the lessons to be learned from French thinking in the "post-Catholic" France of the 1960s and 1970s (Rite and Reason, February 20th).

His central point is that the French "possess the capacity for debate and intellectual exchange that has been lacking in Ireland because of the traditionally unthinking nature of religious observance here".

But the question remains: why an "unthinking nature" here?

Philosophy has been a subject on the French secondary school curriculum for years. This subject opens up the adolescent mind like no other. When will Ireland add this subject to our secondary school curriculum and let young people understand that "religion isn't about laws and regulations, that it is more a question of following a path to self-discovery", to use Dr Maher's words?

Records in the Ministry of Education will show that the debate on introducing philosophy into secondary schools took place in Ireland as far back as the 1970s, when I was a philosophy undergraduate, but no change happened.

I am saddened as I watch from afar the appalling suicide numbers in Ireland and the post-Catholic, Celtic Tiger attitude that "life consists of possessing material goods".

If only some courageous leaders would introduce a thought-provoking subject to secondary schools to launch our adolescents on the "path to self-discovery", so much of this pain could be avoided. - Yours, etc,

PATRICK HENNESSY, Bangkok, Thailand.