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← Should children be taught philosophy? Sounds like a good idea to me!

Should children be taught philosophy? Sounds like a good idea to me! - Comments

G.F.Roddam's Avatar Comment 1 by G.F.Roddam

oh absolutely, yes.

If nothing else, it will teach kids to look for different sides of an argument and evaluate them. Far better than being taught, for subjective matters, that 'x' is right.

Having said that, I pity any poor kid who has to try and work their way through Hegel.

Sat, 28 May 2011 22:27:34 UTC | #631889

ajs261's Avatar Comment 2 by ajs261

It would make them far less susceptible to religious "arguments."

Definitely, classes in critical thinking should be taught to children.

Sat, 28 May 2011 23:50:11 UTC | #631905

StephenH's Avatar Comment 3 by StephenH

Yes, i agree.

I was a late starter when it came to philosophy.

I started with the book, Sophie's World.

Sun, 29 May 2011 00:09:39 UTC | #631908

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 4 by QuestioningKat

Absolutely! Children should be taught philosophy and how to recognize logical fallacies. They should even be taught to recognize their imitations in perception and susceptibility to optical illusions. Of course, age appropriateness and having a good teacher would be key.

Sun, 29 May 2011 00:51:19 UTC | #631915

SimonG's Avatar Comment 5 by SimonG

This is a brilliant idea, especially as it is taught at a level appropriate to the childs age.I find it amazing how many people i encounter cannot hold a reasoned arguement or even think for themselves on a topic. It would be nice to see a generation of children learning to question what they are told by the media, government, religion or even their peers.

Sun, 29 May 2011 02:18:56 UTC | #631937

Virtual Katie's Avatar Comment 6 by Virtual Katie

Well of course we think that because we are the minority of people who are actually logical. Arguing using logic apparently doesn't work with 99% of the population. I'm 31 and just realizing where I've been going wrong my entire life. Appealing to a person's ego rather than logic is apparently the most effective way to sway people. I spent my whole life wondering why people tell me "no" so much even when I've masterfully supported my argument. However the thought of brown-nosing makes me gag. I have not yet implemented this new strategy and am not sure if I can.
Also "philosophy" is obnoxious sometimes? Does anyone else agree? Maybe we can just teach these kids science and after all the old people die they won't have to argue about religion anymore. That is my wet dream at least.

Sun, 29 May 2011 03:35:54 UTC | #631947

RDfan's Avatar Comment 7 by RDfan

You can watch a short youtube video of Dr. Fisher and his young students.

Comment 4 by QuestioningKat:

Children should be taught philosophy and how to recognize logical fallacies.

Agreed. If you see the youtube video it is clear that some of the pupils, bless them, think that philosophy is just about "my opinion" Vs others'. The real lesson that they ought to learn is that not all opinions are equally valid; it is possible, necessary even, that some opinions, even ones own, are simply wrong. How to distinguish between mere opinion and fact-based-opinion? This is were science, or scientific method (including scientific experiment), come into the debate. I wish the kids would experiment as well as philosophize.

Having said all that, we must not forget that children are natural-born scientists and philosophers. They ask questions all the time and wonder at their environment, poking here, tugging there, finding things out for themselves. We just need to encourage them to be that which they instinctively are already.

Sun, 29 May 2011 04:15:48 UTC | #631951

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 8 by Premiseless

I think this is asking a de facto 'stating the obvious'.

Should children be taught how to best represent their own thoughts and feelings be able to test these out against reason - to develop their own personality in ways they feel comfortable to share their thoughts?

Well - erm - who would want them not to?

Philosophy is a key to this that will keep them otherwise 'locked away'- i.e. without an ability to express philosophy an individual is locked within themselves and vulnerable to oppressions since that is their default position!

Sun, 29 May 2011 06:56:37 UTC | #631969

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 9 by the great teapot

Why don't ŵe just teach kids all human knowledge?

Sun, 29 May 2011 07:35:39 UTC | #631973

paulmarkj's Avatar Comment 10 by paulmarkj

Whenever there is news about education, a few things often become clear in the first paragraph. First, the author says something outrageously old fashioned and wrong, so he can oppose it (strawman), then he opposes it with something he pretends is new, but isn't.

So when I read...

Children should be seen and not heard... who says? A Philosophy academic at The University of Nottingham is challenging the adage by teaching primary school children to argue properly.

...I see exactly that. Which in this case is ironic because we are talking about arguing properly.

It has been decades since children were expected to be seen and not heard. The cornerstone of education is that the pupils lead and the teacher steers them by questioning. If you read the assessment of children in science (AT1) it assesses pupils ability to question, to question, to identify key factors, to observe, to draw conclusions. And let me stress this point: teachers do not tell them what to observe, pupils must learn how to do this on their own.

It is recognised that pupils will not learn if told (chalk and talk) but will learn if they do things for themselves.

So 'seen and not heard' is not what any good school does - we don't need Nottingham to tell us that!

As you can see through science assessments, pupils are learning to put together arguments for themselves, and this follows through in other subjects. There have been debating clubs in schools for years.

All subjects are taught at the level (or just above the level) of the pupils. so philosophy is not taught directly, but pupils should be given the tools to think for themselves, which they are already.

So nothing is new here.

Sun, 29 May 2011 09:58:30 UTC | #632008

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 11 by Premiseless

Comment 10 by paulmarkj : There have been debating clubs in schools for years.

All subjects are taught at the level (or just above the level) of the pupils. so philosophy is not taught directly, but pupils should be given the tools to think for themselves, which they are already.

So nothing is new here.

You mean like'

"Is it a kindness that our parents/teachers might expect us to think for long periods about a power over us that will either love us or punish us indefinitely dependent upon rules made up by a human/s claiming to have had cakes and tea with the said power?"

Is that the kind of debate you were thinking of?

Or,

"Do we all need to pretend there is an invisible 'beating stick' in order to behave in 'good ways' towards each other? And could this actually render 'sincere children' fearful and guilt ridden respecting even insignificant daily life (such as the child who is always afraid a parent is about to find fault with them for no good reason)? In effect is the 'invisible god' who is made up to control the 'naughty child' not even more cruel to the 'kind child' due its cruel natures often defined as seeking punishments?"

Now I could go on for pages of all kinds of social taboos - about which limits are often set due being seen as social etiquette or religious intolerance - which again begs the question,

"Do you seriously think freethinking is an unpolluted feature of the education system and is not controlled to some extent by absolutist mind-bullying bigots who can't help but preserve their own role even if they would like to disagree with it - due an inherited cultural deceitful subservience ? "

"If knowledge is power then what is that seam within it recognisable as delusional education and inheritance? These lies sold as truth to oppress the weak and satiate the psychopathically motivated respectabilities of the powerful are exactly that - but they insist we keep on praying to their effluent and bowing to their dross by hook or by crook. Bowing to their superior delusions (claimed knowledge). Why is this?"

Are these the kinds of simple truths you were alluding to?

Sun, 29 May 2011 12:03:00 UTC | #632050

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 12 by QuestioningKat

Comment 4 by QuestioningKat :

They should even be taught to recognize their imitations in perception and susceptibility to optical illusions.

Maybe we should also teach this to adults. I just noticed my limitation in perception. We humans have a way of fooling ourselves into seeing something that really isn't there.

Sun, 29 May 2011 13:01:35 UTC | #632068

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 13 by Premiseless

Comment 12 by QuestioningKat :

Comment 4 by QuestioningKat :

They should even be taught to recognize their imitations in perception and susceptibility to optical illusions.

Maybe we should also teach this to adults. I just noticed my limitation in perception. We humans have a way of fooling ourselves into seeing something that really isn't there.

There really are no "limitations" to the "imitations" humans have foisted upon their progeny by themselves being deluded by previous generations dogmas and indoctrinations as if some romanticism and nostalgia were worthy it taking precedent over teaching the next generation how to think for themselves in rational and good ways. "Good" always seems to have multiple attachments of woo which unwittingly help preserve latent forms extraordinarily poisonous thinking and emotions which are guaranteed to do someone someplace, and in no small numbers, untold damage due their irrational natures and thus psychological traumas. Just look at the world and see the children this day who will suffer such 'respectabilities' as genital mutilations or other 'holy' indecencies before you even begin to think about actions foisted on adults and children alike in deliberately harmful ways and even in the name of 'justice' or god speak. Yes - the 'isn't there' really isn't there for those spared its blade but I assure you there are many all too aware of the taste of lifes blood and steel who know far more about the dormant lies their mind were sold out to!

Sun, 29 May 2011 13:18:22 UTC | #632075

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 14 by QuestioningKat

Comment 11 by Premiseless :

"Do we all need to pretend there is an invisible 'beating stick' in order to behave in 'good ways' towards each other? And could this actually render 'sincere children' fearful and guilt ridden respecting even insignificant daily life (such as the child who is always afraid a parent is about to find fault with them for no good reason)? In effect is the 'invisible god' who is made up to control the 'naughty child' not even more cruel to the 'kind child' due its cruel natures often defined as seeking punishments?"

I too noticed the dated comment about children being seen and not heard (Yet I've encountered plenty of kids on Ritalin...) and I wonder if this comment above is also dated. Maybe not in some extremist religions or some countries, but I think God is viewed more as a sugar daddy these days. "God give me this, God give me that ----please, oh please." Good behavior is not so much a fear of punishment, but a matter of one-upmanship and ego. "I'm better/more spiritual than X."

Along with the philosophy, recognizing logical fallacies, recognizing pitfalls or shortcomings in our perception and thinking, maybe we could also teach self responsibility and how to avoid playing the victim. Some basic psychology and conflict resolution would be good too. ...and maybe some art education while we're at it..... ;)

Sun, 29 May 2011 13:38:58 UTC | #632079

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 15 by QuestioningKat

My goodness Premiseless, from optical illusions to genital mutilation simply by me omitting an "L." Look what serious conversation unfolds because of no "L." Noel noel...

Sun, 29 May 2011 13:50:22 UTC | #632081

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 16 by Anaximander

Should children be taught philosophy?

If it should be done and if it is useful, why is it not done?

Sun, 29 May 2011 14:48:17 UTC | #632098

Al Denelsbeck's Avatar Comment 17 by Al Denelsbeck

My first response to this was, "Oh, sweet baby rhesus, no!"

Then I read the article, and found that he's not actually teaching philosophy, but selective bits of it that fall more under the definition of "critical thinking," which is fine by me.

"Philosophy" has far too many definitions and uses to really be meaningful as a word, anymore. My biggest issue with it, however, is a pervading aspect that logical thought leads to knowledge, something that countless Greek philosophers all the way up to Ayn Rand haven't yet broken us of the habit of believing. The "aether" made perfect sense, but failed utterly against the non-intuitive and hard-to-grasp concept of relativity. Quantum electrodynamics is wildly at odds with the idea that logic can tell us how it works. Logic is fine, to a point - and that point is where it needs to be tested against empirical evidence. When it fails against that, the value of logic becomes nil.

Philosophy has a long history of pursuing questions without trying in any way to determine if the questions are valid and properly applied. Thousands of hours every year are wasted with discussions of the variations on the "brain in a vat" posit, usually taking no small amount of time finding out there is no useful answer or purpose to such, if it gets that far at all. This is no more useful than discussing whether Darth Vader should have detected Leia at any point in his life.

What's funny is, we can now put this down to the idea that we have puzzle-solving brains, probably an evolved trait that certainly has its uses, but occasionally sidetracked because there is no internal function to stipulate that such pursuits be useful - therefore we play with crossword puzzles. And philosophy remains questionable, in many cases useless, until we consciously exert such a stipulation.

Annnnddd let the flames begin... ;-)

Sun, 29 May 2011 14:55:30 UTC | #632101

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 18 by Premiseless

Comment 14 by QuestioningKat :

maybe we could also teach self responsibility and how to avoid playing the victim. Some basic psychology and conflict resolution would be good too. ..

I always worry when anyone tries to drop a "Hell" on me for - erm worldwide reasons!

Next - there are millions, nay billions of victims of de facto non-philosophical communications - lifetstyles and traditions in which to ask a question about it is to fear being ridiculed scorned or put down due the consequences of taking such propositions seriously - for example: the bible, why bother? Or religion per say even? And especially to get to the hub (crux avoidance) of such a question.

I say critical thinking is extraordinarily weak in most education systems in respect to how it applies directly to providing opportunity to all learners to take a critical look at the world that deposited them here and how best to make up their own minds about it.

I don't expect, need, or anticipate consensus on this and neither does anyone who hits a de facto reality. Victim identity does not exist in the same way atheism is not about having to prove teapots do not have their own solar system, or Jehovah is a myth. It just gets tedious when people keep reiterating 'The world be a flat' or that their version of figments of the imagination be real under the pain of your being ostracised.

So yeah, I think it critical that the philosophy of how to position ones mind against the fictional elements of humanity be taught, but to actually witness this, well no! That just wouldn't be human in the way that inhumanity prevails itself.

Sun, 29 May 2011 15:33:31 UTC | #632105

wcapehart's Avatar Comment 19 by wcapehart

Uh it depends on how old they are, doesn't it? I am big about teaching about environment to the little monsters but I am loathe to the idea of teaching kids who don't know why they should clean their rooms about carbon footprints and Kyoto. Same goes with philosophy or anything else. I admit to being an old school fart but if the students can't wrap their brains around it, don't teach it. There will be time later when they are mature enough with respect to their hard experience and learning base to get that higher level stuff. Critical thinking at the level to which they can concretize and then conceptualize it is great but putting the cart before the horse is a bad idea and invites wrote memorization of stuff they don't understand yet.

Sun, 29 May 2011 16:48:18 UTC | #632115

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 20 by Helga Vieirch

Reply to QuestioningKat : I like what you said here:

I say critical thinking is extraordinarily weak in most education systems in respect to how it applies directly to providing opportunity to all learners to take a critical look at the world that deposited them here and how best to make up their own minds about it.

Test the truth of your statement on yourself by watching this and discover your own culturally indoctrinated blindspots and get back to me. And don't worry - I am not going to drop hell on you. Hell on earth may well be in our future, but it has nothing to do with the supernatural.

Sun, 29 May 2011 16:49:56 UTC | #632116

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 21 by DocWebster

I posite that children do a fair job of teaching themselves a kind of philosophy as soon as they realized that not only are those big people mostly crazy and a little retarded but they will also be the final say in everything that happens to the child, good or bad. How else is it that every parent doesn't end up assuming room temp if children are not philosophical about a wide range of indignities forced upon them by well- meaning but ultimately cruel adults. Take liver for example or brussels sprouts, after being forced to eat either of these vile substances would a child not throw the toaster in mommies bath if it were not for a well developed system of philosophy.

Sun, 29 May 2011 18:06:29 UTC | #632136

Quine's Avatar Comment 22 by Quine

My opinions on this subject are too biased to be of value, here.

Sun, 29 May 2011 18:24:37 UTC | #632143

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 23 by Premiseless

Comment 19 by wcapehart :

Uh it depends on how old they are, doesn't it? I am big about teaching about environment to the little monsters but I am loathe to the idea of teaching kids who don't know why they should clean their rooms about carbon footprints and Kyoto. Same goes with philosophy or anything else. I admit to being an old school fart but if the students can't wrap their brains around it, don't teach it. There will be time later when they are mature enough with respect to their hard experience and learning base to get that higher level stuff. Critical thinking at the level to which they can concretize and then conceptualize it is great but putting the cart before the horse is a bad idea and invites wrote memorization of stuff they don't understand yet.

This is part of the inherited cycle of - at home they respond to dogma so their habit is responsive to dogma. In the classroom the unruly are more easily coaxed by mass ritual to dogma and so the drip fed cool aid cycle perpetuates itself. And the powerful advocate this system so everyone stand in line!

But whether a better system ought to take its place is more what this forum is about considering. Now how we get there is an altogether other question - especially in view of the mass resistance to liberation from addictions to woo.

Sun, 29 May 2011 18:54:45 UTC | #632151

Nathan DST, aka LucienBlack's Avatar Comment 24 by Nathan DST, aka LucienBlack

Comment 10 by paulmarkj :

It has been decades since children were expected to be seen and not heard. The cornerstone of education is that the pupils lead and the teacher steers them by questioning. If you read the assessment of children in science (AT1) it assesses pupils ability to question, to question, to identify key factors, to observe, to draw conclusions. And let me stress this point: teachers do not tell them what to observe, pupils must learn how to do this on their own.

It is recognised that pupils will not learn if told (chalk and talk) but will learn if they do things for themselves.

So 'seen and not heard' is not what any good school does - we don't need Nottingham to tell us that!

As you can see through science assessments, pupils are learning to put together arguments for themselves, and this follows through in other subjects. There have been debating clubs in schools for years.

All subjects are taught at the level (or just above the level) of the pupils. so philosophy is not taught directly, but pupils should be given the tools to think for themselves, which they are already.

So nothing is new here.

I envy you your education, because your description doesn't sound AT ALL like the science education I received growing up, and there was no dedicated debate club in my school. The closest we had to debate was small subset of the Speech club, which we didn't have access to until high school, and was completely voluntary (and not very popular). I checked with my wife, who went to a different school, and her experience is similar to mine.

Encouraging, even pushing, us to question wasn't a big part of things. We were mostly just taught what was there, and were basically told what answer to find when we questioned. I, personally, received no formal training in proper critical thinking, or any other part of philosophy, until college.

Of course, I'm in America, and America is hardly a paragon of education. I'm guessing that you're in the UK?

Sun, 29 May 2011 19:27:59 UTC | #632154

yesnomaybe's Avatar Comment 25 by yesnomaybe

This sounds too good to be true!

Provided, of course, Dr. Fisher isn't teaching the children that "all claims to knowledge are equal". The fact that the schools officially allow such a thing makes me very suspicious indeed. Since when have school and councils taken an interest in critical thinking?

Mon, 30 May 2011 03:28:34 UTC | #632237

Munski's Avatar Comment 26 by Munski

Comment 25 by yesnomaybe :

This sounds too good to be true! Provided, of course, Dr. Fisher isn't teaching the children that "all claims to knowledge are equal". The fact that the schools officially allow such a thing makes me very suspicious indeed. Since when have school and councils taken an interest in critical thinking?

I have reservations about the merits of this club, even though I do support the idea. I like the analogy of your comment of 'all claims to knowledge are equal', and would even take it into the realm of what it means in a modern world that teaches children (especially here across the pond) that we can 'be anything we want' without really telling them that no, not everyone will get to be a President or PM. Or a ballet dancer, or scientist, and so on.

Children have many different ideas and takes on things, but not all are very good at expressing them. My son, who was a very smart kid and good at physics and math, but not very good at communicating ideas, used to have this habit of getting very nervous when he had trouble expressing what he was thinking in moments of pressure. Of course, it didn't help when the teacher, a very old school prairie teacher, used to 'demand answers quickly', which would get him frustrated to the point of resorting to doing a bit of a 'nervous dance', where he would stutter and mumble, and start to wave his hands up and down nervously while under pressure. Naturally, as any 'sane' teacher does, she claimed he was hyper-active and told us she thought he should be prescribed Ritalin. My wife, and RN, essentially told her to go to hell.

The club could work, I suppose, if children were allowed to have the opportunities to have their opinions, and have the time to formulate their thoughts into speech in cases like my son (who did eventually become very talkative and now expresses himself just fine without the use of drugs, because he just needed patience as a motivator . . . and although he will likely never be a professional debater, he can at least express this thoughts better).

I guess where I'm going with this is that in order for this to be effective as a 'teaching mechanism', it has to be a place where no ideas are really considered 'stupid' if expressed but still be talked about rationally, and in that it needs to be a 'safe zone' of sorts and moderated properly. And of course, it needs to be realistic about the expectations for the students, in that some people, as with all things, are simply better designed to be good at some things, like arguing or debating, while others are not. But for the purpose of learning to communicate their ideas, as long as it was run in a moderated fashion with the understanding that the world may certainly not be as much of a 'safe zone' as the club would be, it could be helpful for any child to be able to think critically, and be able to say why they think that way.

But the problem with that is, it gets back to your comment on how it sounds 'too good to be true', because of the complications of schools that are too afraid to teach critical thinking in communities that are especially designed or have large populations of those that are stuck in the ideal that no child should be in the possession of such a thing.

Lawsuits, protests, and legal challenges . . . oh my.

Mon, 30 May 2011 06:00:19 UTC | #632254

Munski's Avatar Comment 27 by Munski

Whoops . . . part of my comment got implanted in your quote. Sorry about that, yesnomaybe. And here I thought I was computer-literate.

Mon, 30 May 2011 06:08:16 UTC | #632256

DefenderOfReason!'s Avatar Comment 28 by DefenderOfReason!

Teach them as much as possible about science and the scientific method instead. This will create much more critical thinking than Plato. Hawking said it himself, "philosophy is dead".

Mon, 30 May 2011 06:33:11 UTC | #632262

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 29 by Premiseless

Comment 28 by DefenderOfReason! :

Teach them as much as possible about science and the scientific method instead. This will create much more critical thinking than Plato. Hawking said it himself, "philosophy is dead".

Inasmuch as philosophy is "The study of fundamental problems, by rational breakdown or analysis....." my take on it is that it cannot die but is essential to human understanding. Please explain what exactly Hawking meant by this? Is he not alluding to the various 'world philosphies' that I see when I enter an extensive library? Is he not suggesting humans are, through thinking increasing the relevance of scientific method, converging upon the one true philosophy - which I always defined to myself as philosophy anyway?

I think the word itself has grown into too broad a term and has different hues of meaning to different people.

Mon, 30 May 2011 07:38:40 UTC | #632275

Virtual Katie's Avatar Comment 30 by Virtual Katie

Teach them as much as possible about science and the scientific method instead. This will create much more critical thinking than Plato. Hawking said it himself, "philosophy is dead".

My thoughts exactly defender of reason!

Mon, 30 May 2011 17:48:34 UTC | #632419