“I think a program like this could really help reduce inequality of opportunity among underprivileged children… I was fortunate enough to attend a school that did have a philosophy program and it was a tremendously rewarding experience which helped me develop my own ideas as well as respecting and considering the views of others more carefully. I’d like to help other kids have a similar experience.”
– a Big Questions volunteer.
Successful completion of school significantly improves the life chances of children and young people, bringing improved higher education opportunities as well as employment opportunities, economic and social prosperity, community inclusion and participation, and health and wellbeing.
Unfortunately, due to persistent inequities in the Australian education system, children from low socio-economic backgrounds continue to experience educational disadvantage. One consequence is that these students are more disengaged from school than their peers, and have lower aspirations for continued study and career success.
Studies show that educational disadvantage is most effectively overcome through interventions, in the early years of schooling, that broaden students’ horizons and build the capacity of schools to support high achievement. Other research suggests that teaching philosophy in low socio-economic schools can contribute to overcoming the systematic entrenchment of disadvantage in the school system.
The Big Questions program ignites students’ curiosity and builds their motivation and confidence while also increasing behaviour expectations and strengthening peer support. In these ways, the Big Questions program seeks to address educational disadvantage, engage students in rich learning and raise their aspirations for further study.