Thursday, 3 July 2008

Philosphy in Schools

http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,2288603,00.html

I think this is a fantastic idea. Good reasoning, the quality of an arguament and deabting issues that have no clear yes or no is something that I frequently feel is missing from society.

In the interest of putting forward an opposite arguament (and hence not giving a clear yes or no) it could be very hard to teach issues such as morality without the teacher letting their own feelings get forced onto the class, as I remember happening once at school when we were 'forming a country' in sixth form.

Anyway, what do you guys (especially new teacher bambi) think?

6 comments:

TheTelf said...

It's a good idea in theory - anything that provokes more logical argument and abstract discussion from a young age is fine with me, though some of that should certainly come at home, too.

I'd be interested to see how well younger kids pick up on philosophical concepts - whether they are willing to argue a point, or whether they just accept whatever they're told. Though teaching kids to question everything and argue every point down to the wire is possibly something their parents might not appreciate.

If it can impart a mindset of critical thinking, though, then it's absolutely something to be considered.

Your point about the teacher's own views coming into it is a very valid one too, James, though it's certainly not limited to the philosophy classroom.

What's the Sixth Form country thing you were thinking of?

James said...

It was a whole 6th form thing where we pretended we'd founded a country and were debating the laws it should have. Basically one of the geography teachers, whose name I forget, completely sided with one side of each issue and tried to force it on everyone so that when we voted on it everyone went with him. I ended up voting against him as a silent protest.

There was also Mr Carter pushing his green views in biology.

That said it's must be pretty hard to sit back and listen to kids' uninformed opinions of the world without stepping and 'correcting' them.

TheTelf said...

Huh, I really don't remember that at all :s

Agree with your last point - would be difficult to watch kids setting up an ultra-conservative theocracy without wanting to get stuck in and point out how wrong they were.

immedia reaction said...

I think it sounds like a good idea, they should teach rhetoric and debating as well :)

The Big LeBamski said...

Sounds to me like several of the things they are proposing are (or should be) already enacted in schools. "Fairness, morality and punishment" are all covered under the Citizenship/PSHE umbrella; as for the interpretation of literature in a philosophical way, I'd hope that any decent English teacher would try to do that with every class, albeit to varying degrees of complexity.

I'm not averse to the teaching of Philosophy in schools. However, I think that introducing it as another subject, compulsory or otherwise, is the wrong way to do it. The National Curriculum has just had a major revision which comes into effect for Year 7 in September, and one of the key things it is proposing is more cross-curricular work to break down the segmentation of schooling into discrete subjects. I think if Philosophy is introduced, it should be done in a drip-feed fashion into all subjects, rather than creating yet another subject with a set of exams at the end.

As for pupils making uninformed choices and teacher intervention, there's room for both. One of the best ways to show pupils why something doesn't work is to let them try it, see it not working and engage with why it didn't work. Additionally, teachers are generally in the job because they want to pass something on to their pupils, and this will inevitably contain part of their own personality and opinion. It's then the pupil's prerogative to decide whether they agree or disagree with the teacher. I'm sure there were teachers when you were at school who you thought talked a load of bollocks, but others thought were really clever and insightful, and vice versa.

Anyway, that's my ramble :-D

TheTelf said...

It's not exactly the same thing, but one of my friends has set up a kind of coaching organisation that travels around schools teaching children to debate, form persuasive arguments and speak publicly. So I thought I'd plug that, while we're roughly on the subject. :P