Should schools teach philosophy? Why should it be taught in schools? Can it be done through practical way? What are some of the problems with including philosophy in the school curriculum? The podcast I have chosen to write this blog answers these questions, elaborating more on a nature of philosophy in education.
The conversation takes places between Peter Worley, co-founder and CEO of The Philosophy Foundation, Michael Hand from the Institute of Education, and Stephen Boulter from Oxford Brookes University. The podcast starts with the question of whether children can do philosophy or not. Guests agree that children can definitely do a philosophy. They claim that kids are “far more cognitively sophisticated” from early years. Sometimes they do surprise adults with the questions they ask.
But what is a philosophy in education? Philosophy requires higher order thinking skills and needs to be facilitated well in class. It works better with a group of students where various ideas are heard. Michael Hand mentioned two reasons why philosophy is valuable: clear thinking and normative inquiry. He believes that clear thinking is a discipline to figure out what we think in all sorts of life. However normative inquiry makes us carefully think about what we ought to do. This, in turn, should lead to “intellectual judgements” based on a reasoning process.
This podcast was informing and entertaining. I have never thought about how philosophy would work in education. Mostly, we think of philosophy to be focused on moral values. However, Stephen Boulter believes that teaching moral values is not enough. There should be a profound explanation in what circumstances moral values take place. For instance, lying is not good. But, it depends on a particular situation. Stephen gave an example of one boy in his colleague’s class. That kid said that beating was bad. His teacher noticed him in a playground beating another boy. When she asked why he did that, he told that he was beaten first. Kids often ask questions of why to learn a particular thing or why it is important to study? Reasoning process is the answer. Facilitators need to be aware of critical thinking and principles of argumentation. Even reasoning should be explained well. Kids need to know how to assess their answers based on a reasoning.
Teachers’ familiarity in philosophy was a challenge mentioned in that podcast. Guests argued whether a specific degree is needed or not. However, I agree with Stephen that it depends on a type of philosophy. For the beginning part, teachers need to know various ways of asking philosophical questions, as well as knowing principles of argumentation.
Personally, I believe that incorporating philosophy in class is possible through asking questions, sharing ideas, and explaining concepts using a factual knowledge. I would like to know more about how philosophy in education is done practically. Back in school years, we did not get any answers of why should we study chemical reactions or functions. Now, I start to believe that there is an explanation to everything. However, it is the reasoning part that is important to assess the way you think and hidden somewhere behind the factual knowledge. Philosophy in education to me is a basis for other disciplines that focuses on exploring ideas or concepts first, then integrates the received knowledge with other disciplines.