INCORPORATING PHILOSOPHY INTO EDUCATION – AT ANY LEVEL – MAY BE ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO IMPROVE STUDENTS’ BEHAVIOR AND COGNITIVE ABILITIES
Humboldt State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Page: 75 (abstract only)
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:Take a look at the charter for any public high school or the Mission Statement for any public university and you will find an invariable emphasis on the skills associated with critical thinking, communication, and moral reasoning as the cornerstones of good-citizenship, good thinking, and life-long education. Educators and administrators have long sought the best ways to instill and retain these skills, often in the face of limited, if not dwindling, resources. Many disciplines and techniques claim to enhance one or more of the fundamental aspects of good learning. However, in an era where “evidence based” learning is fast becoming the defacto mantra, an unlikely candidate should be given a closer look.
Philosophy has long been one of the most notorious disciplines for being vocationally useless (unless you want to become a philosophy professor). However, philosophers have long contended that when you look at the effects of studying and doing philosophy in terms of its transferable skills – its ability to improve logic based constructive and critical reasoning skills, problem-solving abilities, and life-long learning skills - it is one of the best things going. Now, evidence from several recent studies and pilot programs incorporating philosophy into primary education at various levels strongly suggest that philosophers may have been right all along. They show that collaboratively exploring philosophical concepts and issues in the classroom is an excellent way to significantly improve students’ cognitive abilities (reasoning and judgment), IQ, success on achievement exams, emotional intelligence, interactive behavior, and quality of classroom discussion. Furthermore, a follow up study has shown that these gains have lasting effects. Perhaps the best part, at least from the administrative perspective, is that significantly improving these areas via the method of philosophical enquiry in the classroom is inexpensive and can be done in traditional sized classrooms, while other proven methods have tended to be much more costly (requiring individualized or very small group treatment). All of this becomes even more promising once one realizes that students as young as five have shown significant cognitive and behavioral improvement from doing philosophy. This paper synthesizes and examines the evidence from the studies and programs mentioned above, and situates them in the context of how they may be utilized in invigorating education at any level.