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Politics/Current Affairs

Nursery School Pupils To Study Philosophy

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007 at 11:05 by Ellen Phillips

Pupils in Clackmananshire schools may soon be studying philosophy if the council gets funding to extend a successful primary school programme. The Thinking Through Philosophy course, introduced 6 years ago, led to pupils improving their IQ scores by up to 6.5 points, and they showed improved intellectual performance even at the point of leaving for secondary school. At which point, as everyone knows, hormones kick in and the brain goes on holiday for a few years.

According to a study by Dundee University, the children also had greater self-esteem and emotional awareness, resulting in better classroom behaviour. The council has secured funding to take the programme into secondary schools, and wants to introduce it to children in nursery schools as well.

Now, improving childrens’ grasp of critical thinking is a good thing, and will certainly help them throughout their lives, not simply their school days. But remembering my own school days, the last thing my teachers wanted was for any of us to be able to argue back coherently. They had enough problems with our incoherent arguments!

As the course will not be going into individual philosophers and their theories, concentrating instead on stimulating debate through the use of stories and pictures, pupils presumably won’t be putting forward such arguments as, “I can’t do my homework because there’s no ‘I’ to do it.” or “If this is all just a figment of my imagination, why do I have to go to school anyway?”

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