Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Philosophy in Primary Schools

Philosophy in Primary Schools

In the few years that I have been studying Philosophy the same question has come to mind a number of times. Why did we never study Philosophy in school? Or rather, why was it not an option? Some would say that Philosophy is wasted on the young, and that they haven’t the experience or character yet to feel its full worth, and to a extent I would agree with them. Children with little experience of the world would struggle to grasp the very adult matters with which Philosophy is often concerned. However I am not suggesting that we gracelessly chuck the kids in at the deep-end knowing full well they can not swim, but instead that we could prepare them with the skills they will need to meet these problems head on later in life.

While exploring this debate I found the following in an article at

Within a few months, my class's ability to listen and respond appropriately improved almost beyond belief. The children were able to challenge each other's ideas in anassertive and non-aggressive way. They began to show respect for each other as contributors and there was a more co-operative feel to the class. Empathy displayed regularly in the classroom, continued to be displayed in the playground and the children were in trouble outside much less frequently than previously.

This is the testimony of a Primary School teacher from London, who introduced philosophical debate to her 7 and 8 year-olds Personal and Social Health Education classes. She was initially concerned that some disruptive pupils would sabotage the debate, but as you can see above, they eventually responded positively to the situation and their classmates.

What is important is for children is to be encouraged to think for themselves and then be able to express those thoughts. To be able to have a discussion and listen to each other, understand each other and teach each other. Only Philosophy can deliver this.

Rob Humphries