Should philosophy be on the curriculum from primary school? (updated)

10 Jul

Update: 10 July 2015

Weekly philosophy sessions in class can boost primary school pupils’ ability in maths and literacy, according to a study for the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

14 September 2011

Educational charity The Philosophy Shop has organised “over 50 prominent British figures in the country’s intellectual and cultural life, including eminent academics, scientists, campaigners, authors and comedians” to sign an open letter championing the introduction of philosophy into the classroom from primary on.

Philosophy Shop co-founder Emma Worley, Co-founder commented:

“There is a growing body of evidence that recognises highly-successful Philosophy classes run with children as young as 4, sees teachers citing marked improvements in classroom attention, problem-solving skills, verbal reasoning and strengthened powers of overall concentration.”

According to the letter:

introducing Philosophy lessons in the classroom from a very early age would have immense benefits in terms of boosting British school children’s reasoning and conceptual skills, better equipping them for the complexities of life in the 21st century where ubiquitous technology and rapid social change are the order of the day.

“There is a growing body of evidence that Philosophy can be of huge importance in opening up young minds. Reasoning skills and habits improve learning in other subjects on the curriculum and do not require purchasing expensive equipment and classroom resources.

“The long-term imperative must be to recruit more specialist Philosophy teachers and to increase the number of Philosophy graduates. However, in the short to medium term we also call for the introduction of a new specialist teacher training diploma in Philosophy.”

What do you think? Should philosophy be more widely taught and, if so, from what age?

Are its concepts and skills already included in other subjects?

Do you have suggestions for other subjects that should be taught in schools?

Discuss !

Poll results: Should philosophy be on the curriculum from primary school? (14-22 September 2011)

  • Yes: 94% (15 votes)
  • No : 6% (1 vote)

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4 Responses to “Should philosophy be on the curriculum from primary school? (updated)”

  1. Rebecca 14. Sep, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    I think it is very unnecessary. Many primary school teachers will recognise the skills that are used in this sort of subject – Problem solving, analysing and verbal reasoning. A good school will already include many of these areas of the curriculum within its provision, PSHE, SEAL and circle time to name a few. There are also readily available courses, such as the excellent Philosophy for Children, if schools were more interested. Another layer of trainee teachers and ‘curriculum’ is not needed.

  2. Namrin 24. Nov, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    I strongly agree to the idea to put philosophy in schools. I’m in Thailand where noone talks about this, no educational leaders ever mention…I really want to know more information about the exact curriculum and the possibility to promote it. I believe that learning philosophy at young age could help this world.

  3. John Winter 30. Nov, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    As a teacher of AQA Philosophy at A Level I can vouch for the value of learning philosophising skills such as textual and linguistic analysis and critical evaluation. Philosophy teaches you how to think, rather than what to think and in this sense it could prove to be a valuable tool in improving the overall teaching and learning skills in our schools. However Philosophy is not just about learning skills it is about learning a body of historical and theoretical knowledge which is complex and multi-disciplined, covering politics, morality, religion, art, etc and this would require a great deal of care in its application to the intellectual capabilities and interests of students across the key stages. In practice this would prove to be both challenging and controversial!

  4. Richard Fraser 11. Jan, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    “Philosophy can teach children what Google can’t” (Guardian comment)

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