The reason we should teach children philosophy!

It’s common to hear children being taught the basics of mathematics, science, grammar and some broken piece of history. What’s uncommon is the idea to teach children philosophy. A lot of people including parents, schools and teachers would scoff this idea and question the whole point of this. And they are not completely wrong. We are not talking about the philosophy classes they take in colleges. We are not at all interested in adolescents writing a dissertation on Plato’s theory of forms. The kind of philosophy we should teach kids should be the one that converts their classroom into an “organized society” and a “thinking ground”.

But why is philosophy important?

When people hear the word “philosophy” they might think first of something like a set of guiding principles or a general worldview. And that’s the vaguest way of understanding philosophy. In fact, philosophy asks you to not follow a certain set of ideology but to think on your own.

Originally published on Skit Hub

It’s true that philosophy involves a lot of sittin’ and thinkin’ on one’s own, but as the late American philosopher Matthew Lipman wrote in his essay “The Educational Role of Philosophy:

“Philosophy may begin in wonder and eventuate in understanding, or even, in a few instances, in wisdom, but along the way it involves a good deal of strenuous activity. This activity generally takes the form of dialogue.”

And this is the most important part. Dialogue. This is the only way our assumptions, preconceived notions, and ideologies can be challenged. And imagine the world where kids are taught at an early age on how to think and how to question their ideals. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see students who are passionate to change the world with their ability to reason soundly and exercise good judgment?

Science backs it up!

A study published in the UK last year found that primary school children in years 4 and 5 who took part in a series of lessons devoted to discussing philosophical concepts didn’t just learn about reasoning and the nature of reality — the classes delivered academic advantages in their regular school curriculum too.

The experiment was conducted by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) — an independent charity that seeks to close the gap between family income and educational attainment. Their trial involved more than 3,000 students across 48 primary schools in the UK taking weekly lessons in what’s called Philosophy for Children (P4C).

Sessions involved dialogues and questions focused around philosophical issues, exploring concepts such as truth, justice, knowledge, friendship, and fairness.

The kinds of thought-provoking questions students contemplated and discussed included: “Should a healthy heart be donated to a person who has not looked after themselves?”; “Is it OK to deprive someone of their freedom?”; and “Is it acceptable for people to wear their religious symbols at work places?”

The kids who took part ended up improving their maths and reading skills by around two months’ of extra progress compared to students who weren’t taking the classes.

More details about this study can be found on the EEF’s website.

And why only kids? Everyone should learn philosophy!

And yet again, we do not mean the way it is taught in colleges, you don’t have to go through various notes and present a dissertation of your own. We all can agree how philosophy is beneficial for kids and their growth. But what’s stopping you? We are always in a constant learning phase and trying to think from a philosophical perspective might actually help a lot of us in taking the right decision.

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