Philosophical enquiry

Participating in collaborative philosophical enquiry makes learning more meaningful, relevant and engaging for students. It also promotes reasoned argument and higher-order thinking – skills that underlie literacy and numeracy development – by cultivating rigorous intellectual habits of careful deliberation and reflection, insightful questioning, sound judgement and self-correction.

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Guided by a trained facilitator, students discuss topics such as freedom, knowledge, justice and identity. They are encouraged to listen to each other respectfully and to express themselves in a well-considered way.

Over the past decade, studies have shown that the practice of collaborative philosophical enquiry in schools has marked cognitive benefits, as well as personal and social benefits. Extensive academic research confirms the value of philosophy education for improving thinking skills, collaborative social processes, emotional intelligence and fair-mindedness.

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Philosophical enquiry helps students develop a broad range of interdisciplinary communication and thinking capacities outlined by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

For a detailed argument in support of Philosophy in Australian schools, please read The Case for Inclusion of Philosophy in the National Curriculum.

I absolutely agree that teaching philosophy in schools from a young age would have a hugely positive effect upon developing our citizens of the future. Evidence shows us and logic tells us that the more young people develop the ability to think and reason, the greater the likelihood of them developing into responsible and confident citizens. We have developed Philosophy for Children in our primary school with the expertise of a specialist teacher, and this has been shown to impact on behaviour and attainment. On a recent visit to the House of Commons one of our 10-year-olds said: “Maybe they could do with philosophy lessons like we have in school!” What more can I say?

– Carol Machell, Headteacher, Broadgreen Primary School, Liverpool U.K. Quoted in The Guardian, 16 September 2011

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