During my time in Year 10 Philosophy class, we have been taught a variety of skills and methods towards thinking outside the box. As part of the course, we went to Auckland Zoo and asked ourselves if it is ethically ok to keep these animals in an enclosed space for the majority of their life. As students, our minds were very open to the idea of letting these animals free, but as an alternative, we didn’t realize that the zoo is all they have. Philosophy was a class where we had the opportunity to share our ideas and develop a better understanding of questions that are almost impossible to answer. Going to the zoo was more than just looking at animal habitats but to try and focus on how they must feel and how that could relate to animal behaviour. We heard about the history of Auckland Zoo and how it has changed over the years, and about why the animals are there and what the purpose of the zoo is. We all got a chance to share our ideas and explain how we personally feel about the situation.
Also in Philosophy, we learnt about our minds and how we function and how that relates to our decision making. As students, we were asked a lot of questions about what we think is ok and what should not be acceptable in our world. Many of us individually had different opinions which we talked about in class discussions and used logic, argument and thinking skills to open our minds about other students’ thoughts. Knowing what is right and wrong was a tough thing to overcome but in Philosophy we have been educated that sometimes there is no right or wrong answer. That doesn’t mean that nothing is right or wrong, but that it is important to look at the facts carefully and come up with your own understanding and answers.
Towards the end of the course, we had a presentation from a guest speaker from SAFE (Save Animals From Exploitation). We learnt about animal rights and the most effective way of keeping animals alive and well. We discussed whether it is ethically ok to kill animals and why. From the presentation, we learnt that we can live perfectly fine without eating meat but of course it’s truly for our own liking. We argued on the topic because for some people like myself we find it easier to eat meat to keep our protein up and to keep our diet balanced. For others, they thought it was much easier and a better solution to just stay vegetarian because it gives a better outcome for everyone. Another presentation we had was from an organisation called Effective Altruism NZ. The guest speaker taught us about certain charities and places around the world that really need our help. As a way of actively helping out we all got given a real $10 note to donate to 1 of 3 charities. Each charity was doing a different action for our world such as the Against Malaria Foundation, The Good Food Institution and Give Directly. We all got to choose what we personally felt was the most important cause and were given the chance to donate to it. We learnt about each charity and the problems around the world that we never knew were that serious.
On the last lesson of Philosophy, we were asked to put what we had learnt into action, by thinking about how we could make a difference in the world. This could mean choosing a career that makes a positive difference, volunteering our time, donating money to effective charities or helping in other ways. Several of us shared our ideas about what we wanted to do to make a difference in our lifetime. It was nice to see that what we had learnt in Philosophy class was going to help us make thoughtful decisions and live a good and positive life.