Why Teach Philosophy?
What is philosophy for children?
Teaching philosophy to children in primary schools has been an established idea for many years and is continuing to grow in popularity.
When people talk about philosophy in primary schools, it is usually in quite a different sense than the subject that is taught at colleges or universities. Philosophy for children is focused on developing the children’s learning skills through tackling ‘big’ philosophical questions, rather than the academic pursuits of the history of philosophy and studying famous works.
Why teach it?
It helps develop children’s learning and meta-cognition skills that can be applied to other subjects. What children learn how to do in philosophy – give reasons, listen to each other, use logic – can be applied in all their other subjects and in the rest of their future life.
Research suggests that teaching philosophy can improve children’s attainment in English and maths
It also helps to encourage children’s language development. Speaking clearly and explaining what you are thinking, like any other skill, requires practice and philosophy gives children a great opportunity to develop these skills. We have found it is particularly powerful for those children who have language difficulties as philosophy can help them to develop their confidence in speaking.
Philosophy also encourages curiosity and critical reasoning skills. Children are natural philosophers. Children want to ask questions and love to explain what they know – and they pick up doing philosophy very easily (often much more easily than adults do!)
As well as being a logical and rational subject, philosophy is also a creative subject that encourages the children’s imagination and ideas. Philosophy lessons feel very playful to the children – it offers a chance to play with an idea and open our minds to new possibilities. Again, these are essential life skills.
Research has also suggested that learning philosophy can help to develop children’s sense of empathy and social and communication skills.
Philosophy lessons also help to foster a culture of respect and tolerance. By practising sharing different ideas and learning how to disagree with one another in a rational way, children see the value of different perspectives on ideas. This can help support their wider moral and social education, for example in RE or PSHE.
You can read more about why we should teach philosophy to children in this blog post.
the National Curriculum?
In the UK, teaching philosophy can help you cover the National Curriculum in terms of speaking and listening skills.
Teaching philosophy also helps meet school’s statutory duties in terms of Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural Education (SMSC) and British Values. It can also form part of a school’s overall provision of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and Religious Education (RE). It can also form part of the school's approach to personal development under the new Ofsted framework.
A scheme of work like Delphi the Philosopher can then be comfortably incorporated into a wider English, PSHE or RE scheme of work, or simply used as an addition to the school’s wider curriculum.
Use the links below to discover what makes Delphi Philosophy unique!