It’s World Philosophy Day

20 11 2008

And at ABC News Online there is call for more philosophy and critical thinking in Australian schools. I share this view, though I find much to disagree with in Kellie Tranter’s article—especially her uncrtical citing of the think-tank Future Directions’ yearning for “a recognisable spiritual set of values and hierarchy.” But I have long felt that explicit instruction in critical thinking is at least as important as functional English.

Anyway, in the spirit of World Philosophy Day . . . .

By the way, if you haven’t done so already, do (as Ninglun would say) train your podcast feeds on The Philosopher’s Zone and Philosophy Bites.

And I might take the opportunity to bleg: if anyone is aware of decent philosophy/critical thinking in ESL resources, please let me know.





They should have axed The Spirit of Things

16 10 2008

Stephen Crittenden is justifiably incensed at the axing of his Wednesday morning Religion Report, but in all fairness, religion had a fairly big slice of the cake on the Radio National schedule with four weekly programs (The Religion Report, The Ark, Encounter and The Spirit of Things). His suggestion that the axing of his program and the religious history program The Ark will spell “the death of religion at the ABC” is a touch overblown in my view; but it is disappointing that ABC management chose to discard the two religion-themed shows that at least endeavoured to be informative, relevant and educational. Encounter‘s usually not that bad either, but Ark presenter Rachael Kohn’s The Spririt of Things is a syrupy paean to belief in belief and religious pandering that has been dumbing down the Radio National brand for a long time.

Of course, the shows mentioned here aren’t the only ones to go, and former RN presenter Andrew Dodd gives his take on the programming reshuffle at Crikey.com (“The dumbing down of Radio National“).

The good news is that The Philosopher’s Zone—perhaps the best philosophy radio show/podcast available anywhere—has been retained. They would have had to pry it from my cold, dead hands.





Can you hear it pumping on your iPod continues . . .

13 08 2008

More additions to my list of iTunes subscriptions. The tough part is that ever since my iPod Shuffle started to malfunction, becoming reduced in the process to a glorified thumb-drive, I have to trawl through Windows Explorer and add each episode of the podcasts I listen to individually to my girlfriend’s non iPod mp3 player. Baby Jesus gets his revenge!

Apologia: Hosted by Zach Moore, this is a very intelligent and very listenable roundtable discussion between theists and atheists, covering a range of philosophical, political, atheist and apologetics-related topics. As an English teacher, I’ve always found the panel discussion, as opposed to the formal debate, to be the best means of grappling with an idea or argument in a substantive way; one of the keys of Apologia’s success is, I think you will find, its adoption of this format. (Indeed, one of its worst episodes featured a debate between a regular panellist and a presuppositionalist; the show took a nose-dive when it became clear that the presuppostionalist was participating in the debate with his fingers firmly planted in his ears, waiting for his turn to repeat the same argument ad nauseam.) One of the panellists also co-hosts a podcast with William Lane Craig; in spite of this, he comes across as quite reasonable on Apologia.

The Bible Geek: I can’t get enough of Biblical scholar and skeptic Robert M. Price, when his audio is freely available, of course. Unfortunately, he’s one of these podcasters who, like the Infidel Guy, charges for much of his content. So those of you who, like me, baulk at the thought of paying for internet audio will simply have to make do with the 5-minute free samples he doles out here, usually in the form of responses to listener’s questions.

Atheist Talk: No, not that “Atheist Talk”! This is the cable TV show, also produced by Minnesota Atheists, featuring interviews, lectures and debates, minus the cheesy promotions, buffet-restaurant commercials and amateurism of the radio show. (Is there anything more frustrating, or awkward, than hearing a well-crafted line of thought cut off in its prime because the presenters have to cut to “Hey Bjorn! Hey Jeanette!”) I can’t see a feed on the webpage, but you can subscribe to the audio component of Atheist Talk (the TV show) through iTunes.

The Philosopher’s Zone: I can’t believe I haven’t added this one to my sidebar already, but I did mention it in an earlier post. The format of The Philosopher’s Zone is almost identical to that of Philosophy Bites, though each episode is almost twice as long. The fact that a radio programme like this would in all probability otherwise not be available is part of the raison-d’etre for having a publicly-funded national broadcaster.