Why There Is A Need For Philosophy in Schools
“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence” — Jiddu Krishnamurti
As a child, we observe things deeply. We become curious about the happenings in our environment. We come across experiences that tweak our brain muscles into questioning.
In the preadolescence stage, our childhood revolves around exploring life, the world; we wonder why things are the way they are. We continue investigating whether the topic is about the universe or our favorite toys.
- Why is the sky blue?
- Why is the moon called a moon?
- Where do the thoughts originate from?
- Why are the rainbows comprised of seven colors?
- What is a superpower or a miracle?
Our childhood days are fun-filled with observational skills. It holds back the opinionated and evaluation skills which major at the grown-up stages. Our intelligence remains raw, organic, innocent, and non-judgemental in times of childhood.
The subject of Philosophy can help an individual explore their intelligent quotient; primarily, if taught at childhood, its application becomes predominant at a later stage, which directs the right way of living.
The Real Meaning Of Philosophy
Having studied the subjects of Philosophy and Psychology as the core in my civil services curriculum, I initially faced resistance. People formed opinions around its subject matter as par below understanding. They state that the text’s readability being difficult involves profound discourses and is merely a complex idea expressed by the Philosophers.
People assume that to decipher the Philosophical ideas into normal subsets requires specialist discourse. Humans tend to form opinions even before exploring the subject, which acts as the initial resistance towards creativity, abundance, and universal knowledge.
People, in general, confine these subjects into unique corners. However, in ancient times Philosophy included everything which we now think of as history, science, ethics, sociology, politics, psychology, and more.
Philosophy interconnects these subjective sciences as Philosophy of Science. This theory critically analyzes the implications of science, the reliability of the scientific theories, and the ultimate purpose.
“The beginning of wisdom is a definition of terms.”
Philosophy defines every subject with a purposeful approach. It is here that wisdom prospers.
Today, in the university study of Philosophy, the expanse of the subject has extended. The course includes reason and reasoning, the nature of knowledge, how we acquire it, the concepts of morality and ethics, society’s functioning, and self-knowledge about our mind and conscience. Thus, Philosophy is a methodological exploration rather than a conclusive or theoretical science.
According to Frankfurt School Philosopher Theodor Adorno:
“The crux is what happens in it, not a thesis or a position… Essentially, therefore, Philosophy is not expoundable. If it were, it would be superfluous; the fact that most of it can be expounded speaks against it.”
Philosophy as a life study requires the critical analysis of ideas and concepts, examining theories, in constituting creative and imaginative efforts to solve real-world problems, inducing a constructive way of thinking, and widen the perceptions of knowledge.
It’s a gradual process towards enlightenment governed by real knowledgeable understanding rather than surface-level experiences.
Considering the valuable insights which Philosophy mentions, introducing it as part of the school curriculum will help in the personal growth of an individual and benefit humankind collectively.
The Cambridge Philosopher, Simon Blackburn, states that making Philosophy accessible shouldn’t only be about simplifying or changing the subject’s identity; instead, it should bring people up to its understanding level. Henceforth, earlier learned the better rather than labeling the subject complex at a later stage.
The Need For Philosophy In Schools
Life as reality is different from the theories learned. The world’s real experiences comprise complexities, puzzles, and inhibitions, acting as the adventurous road. At this junction, the knowledge of Philosophy becomes essential. If included as a core subject throughout the school years, it will be a powerful addition to other topics studied.
As mentioned earlier, primary school children have higher inquisitive tendencies. They become deeply engrossed with the phenomena occurring worldwide, get passionately engaged with life and living, ideas, and seek valuable knowledge about wisdom.
The thinking of the students revolves around active simulation rather than being passive. Right from space, energy, existence, time, relations, every other aspect gets questioned. However, even if the concepts remain not well understood by them, the mere fascinating thought of resolving problems makes their life feel optimistic.
The International Baccalaureate system has proved that Philosophical study in the curriculum (for example, IB’s Theory Of Knowledge) will boost students’ capabilities. The course will encourage the students to be inquiring, knowledgeable, develop intellectual understanding, be caring and compassionate, and foster the attitude necessary to respect and analyze diverse viewpoints.
Henceforth, the combination of vividly interesting questions accompanied by the desire to think thoroughly and study the responses with care, vigor, and creativity is what makes philosophy an attractive discipline.
Implemented Programs And Analysis
A recent study was conducted in England on the children of age groups 9 and 10 years old. These children participated in a Philosophy class once a week for forty minutes. Over time, the children showed massive positive results. The study improved their maths progress and reading by an average of two months — although the course wasn’t about improving either of the two skills.
The idea of including Philosophy for children began in the 1970s when the P4C program was introduced in primary schools by Mathew Lipman and Ann Sharp. In the last 50 years, this program has reached more than 60 countries. It has rightly influenced university-level Philosophy, the business world, and also used in prison.
In these programs, children discuss issues around personal identity and ethical principles. These skills are fundamental tools to understand ourselves, especially during the formative years of schooling, where young individuals develop their identities.
For instance, students in the initial year can analyze the ethics behind truth-telling. They can determine whether a lie produces a positive outcome, whether the intentions of liars matter, or it is a little white lie. These questions’ authenticity gets validated through critically developed skills, analysis and reasoning, and creative thinking. Thus, Philosophy, as a discipline, actively engages students with life.
The Psychological Setbacks If Not Included
Individuals today are obsessed with wealth, success, fame, and power. The worldly gains’ intensity is so high that their sole focus is on building economic productivity, thereby making the core identity freeze.
Society at large also has a role play in making success appear to look singularly: economic oriented. As a result, students become incredibly selfish, fearful, stressed, and mentally depressed. The students feel that the education system prioritizes rote learning rather than exploring them in a meaningful way. Certain behavioral complexities arise —
- Students develop teenage angst.
- The critical thinking collapses.
- Students exhibit violent behaviors.
- Feelings of envy, jealousy, and hatred arise.
- Students feel alienated towards life.
At this stage, students develop antipathy in the living. They forget fundamental humane values of being compassionate, kind, empathetic, and trustworthy. As a result, the student’s life is in such a chronic state that it lacks meaning, undermined by values, and a lack of educative discipline.
A Trinity College Philosopher, Dr. Robert Grant, supports the case of teaching philosophy in schools. He says, “If we want to treat students like human beings and not just capital, capable of questioning the kind of world we live in, then a radically new vision for education is needed.”
The Final Note
Philosophy, as a subject in the school curriculum, directly influences the personality development of students. It inculcates philosophical dialogues where young people go far beyond their test scores, make a better space for understanding the world, and find meaning in their lives.
By emphasizing clarity and logical analysis, Philosophy teaches students the structure of a good argument, makes them better thinkers, and inculcates awareness. What better than making a great leader! This subject’s study protects against dogmatic and group thinkers and helps students be wary of those who claim certainty, are opinionated and pessimistic.
Because as Plato rightly put it:
“We can forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”