One thing that philosophy seems to struggle with is wider public influence and understanding. How do we get people before they get to college or independent of college to know about and appreciate philosophy?
A story titled “the exact age when girls lose interest in science and math” appeared 28 February 2017 on CNN.com. There is an accompanying video to the story titled: Girl Scouts: building robots and tech leaders that is available on YouTube. In this short video, the CEO of the Girl Scouts, Anna Maria Chávez, promotes STEM mentoring in the Girl Scouts. She then says that 75% of female U.S. Senators are Girl Scout alumnae—that is an amazing fact.
Given that information, one might wonder how many Congressmen were or are associated with the Boy Scouts America (BSA). A BSA list for the 113th Congress provides the following totals: youth members (174), Eagle Scouts (28), and adult volunteers (57). According to Congressional Research Service report there were 432 men in the 113th Congress, which means 40% of men in Congress were in the BSA with 13% active as adults.
If you want to increase early knowledge of philosophy AND possibly have lawmakers with some passing familiarity, then get philosophy into Scouting, both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Take a look at the Merit Badge list. A few of these might surprise you:
Look at all those disciplines that make themselves accessible to Scouts. The purpose of a merit badge as stated on the merit badge proposal form is: “A merit badge provides a Scout with additional opportunities for learning, personal growth, physical development, career awareness, citizenship, and life skills development.” Philosophy anyone? The BSA should have merit badges that are explicitly philosophical in nature, such as: a logic merit badge, ethics merit badge, or knowledge merit badge.
I know what you are thinking: “We don’t need no badges.” Or you might object to some of the BSA policies. To this I say, work for change from the inside.
As for the Girl Scouts, I am sure there are similar programs and badges that could be considered. Philosophical role models like the STEM cases are also something that could be promoted. I will leave it to readers in the know to help incorporate philosophy more explicitly into the Girl Scouts.