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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Use of philosophy to develop thinking skills in schools

This pictures reminds me the time, when our grandmother used to tell us bed time stories. I was really addicted to those stories and I am not in doubt that that addiction converted in 'love for book reading", which is still have roots in me, although I am a teacher now. In our reception year classes, there is a conversation class, which I mostly utilize to talk with children and many times tell them stories. Their age level is around 4 to 5 years, and my story telling session is most interesting period for them. Involvement in story telling and then conveying them the moral of the stories helps a lot in character build up.

For teachers, using children's literature can be a way to teach philosophy to elementary school children. Children's books raise deep philosophical issues and children love to think about them.

Why we are talking and concerned about philosophy in schools?

Let's have a look at definition of "Philosophy" from "The College of Education and Human Services at Montclair State University":

"philosophy, among other things, is self-conscious inquiry into the meaning of puzzling and contestable concepts. In ancient times philosophy was known as a search for wisdom or meaning, and many of the concepts philosophers have thought about for thousands of years are ones we use to structure our daily experience. “What is justice?” “What is beauty?” “How can I be sure of what I know?” “What is the right thing to do?” “What is real?”

"Philosophy is also known for the cultivation of excellent thinking. One of the most ancient branches of philosophy is logic, which includes informal logic, or “critical thinking.” But philosophy is not only an intellectual pursuit. Philosophers have tried to improve their thinking in order to better explore the philosophical dimensions of experience, such as the ethical, political and aesthetic dimensions, and in order to improve their judgments and actions within these dimensions. Philosophy helps us learn to recognize, for instance, the ethical problems and possibilities in our experience, to think through them carefully, to make sound ethical judgments and to take appropriate action. This is why for thousands of years people have practiced philosophy, not only in universities but also in business offices, reading clubs and coffee houses."

Why ‘Philosophy for Children’?

"The last thirty years’ experience in doing philosophy with children and adolescents has shown us that they are not only capable of doing philosophy but need and appreciate it for the same reasons that adults do. Children think constantly, and reflect on their thoughts. They acquire knowledge and try to use what they know. And they want their experience to be meaningful: to be valuable, interesting, just and beautiful. Philosophy offers children the chance to explore ordinary but puzzling concepts, to improve their thinking, to make more sense of their world and to discover for themselves what is to be valued and cherished in that world.

The advent of Philosophy for Children also coincides with the recognition that emerged in the third quarter of the 20th century that children are capable of thinking critically and creatively, and that a major aim of education should be to help children become more reasonable—the “fourth R”. And as reading and writing are taught to children through the discipline of literature, why not make reasoning and judgment available to them through the discipline of philosophy? However, these benefits don’t come from learning about the history of philosophy or philosophers. Rather, as with reading, writing and arithmetic, the benefits of philosophy come through the doing—through active engagement in rigorous philosophical inquiry."

Read the full report here

* Philosophy in schools

* Philosophy for kids provides materials to use in doing philosophy with children.

* This site "Philosophy for children" (philosophical questions from children's stories) has been created and is maintained by "Professor Thomas Wartenberg" of the Department of Philosophy at "Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts".

* Philosophy for kids-educators page
* Resources and links
* Kids page
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