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JV Socratic Society Brings Philosophy Speak to Teenagers


For greater than 60 years, UNH college students have been pondering profound philosophical matters and collaborating in partaking dialog as a part of the Socratic Society, a weekly student-led dialogue group. And now the members are taking a few of these age-old debates to a youthful viewers.

The UNH Socratic Society just lately helped create the JV Socratic Society, a partnership with neighboring Oyster River Excessive College that gives the same artistic surroundings for deep dialogue and group constructing. The UNH group meets at The Freedom Café in downtown Durham at 4:30 pm on Friday afternoons through the semester and the JV group, made up of Oyster River college students, convenes its weekly get-together instantly thereafter.

UNH’s Socratic Society – a program of the philosophy division – ​​is described by Nick Smith, UNH professor of philosophy, as a weekly “huge concepts” dialogue group the place college students choose the matters and lead the discussions. The society has been gathering since 1959, with attendance at conferences in current historical past ranging anyplace from 10 to greater than 50 college students.

“It’s actually one of many coolest and most heartwarming communities at UNH,” Smith says. “The scholars are considerate, pleasant and simply cute.”

“From what I’ve noticed, our UNH college students are doing a tremendous job of recognizing and inspiring the company of our highschool members and are excited to have interaction with them.”

The thought behind the JV society is for the excessive schoolers to debate the identical matters because the UNH college students, with a few of the superior school college students sticking round after their assembly to facilitate the JV group’s conversations.

The subject of the primary JV assembly was “human nature,” Smith mentioned, with dialogue overlaying whether or not something makes us superior to non-human animals or machines, together with synthetic intelligence, in addition to what our function is and whether or not human nature is an outdated fable. Different weekly matters have included whether or not nature is clever, the which means of destiny and future, and distinguish preferences from prejudices.

The aim has been to carry the identical vibe from the UNH society to the JV society, with UNH college students in attendance to kickstart conversations and encourage the open sharing of ideas and opinions.

“JV Socratic Society is a chance for our college students to indicate what they’ve realized in our courses. This consists of course content material, but additionally – and arguably extra importantly – the talents and disposition that one must be an lively participant in democracy,” says Nina Windgätter, senior lecturer in philosophy and college advisor to the UNH Socratic Society. “From what I’ve noticed, our UNH college students are doing a tremendous job of recognizing and inspiring the company of our highschool members and are excited to have interaction with them.”

Ulysses Smith, Nick’s son and a sophomore at Oyster River Excessive College, might come by a deep-thinking inclination naturally – “the whole thing of my household is extra inquisitive about pondering philosophical questions than most people,” he admits – however he has discovered the JV society each inclusive and rewarding.

“What I take pleasure in most about it’s actually simply the chance it supplies for me and others to debate our views of the world in a sort, welcoming and welcoming setting,” Ulysses Smith says. “I’ve all the time felt at peace there.”

Provides Orion Smith, Ulysses’ youthful brother and an eighth grader within the Oyster River college system, “I take pleasure in that I really feel comfy talking my ideas round individuals I solely simply met.”

The creation of the JV society has confirmed useful for each demographics concerned – it offers the UNH college students expertise working with a youthful inhabitants and the chance to function mentors and supplies the high-school college students a singular probability to construct rapport with a bunch they don ‘t work together with at that stage typically.

“One of many biggest advantages of collaborating within the JV society is with the ability to develop your social expertise with these older than you who chances are you’ll really feel intimidated by,” says Ulysses Smith. “I really feel these expertise will serve an necessary function later in life when you must discuss with somebody chances are you’ll not agree with regularly.”

That confidence to be a keen participant in partaking conversations of every kind is precisely what the leaders of the UNH Socratic Society hoped to foster in JV members, and the truth that UNH college students are taking the lead on that makes it much more impactful.

“I feel that it is actually arduous to be a highschool pupil at any time, however particularly now. I hope this program offers native highschool college students one thing to look ahead to, and hope that it challenges them to develop as conversationalists and as thinkers,” says Windgätter. “I understand how superb and succesful UNH college students are, so I like to see them sharing their ardour and abilities with younger individuals in our group.”

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