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Learning to think: thinking about learning

July 3rd, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I don’t agree with centralised curricula and I think curricula should be developed by the community.

But I do agree with the spirit of this report from the Guardian newspaper.

“Children of all ages should study philosophy in school to develop their critical thinking skills, education experts said today….

The book Philosophy in Schools, edited by Dr Michael Hand of the Institute of Education and Dr Carrie Winstanley of Roehampton University, puts forward several arguments for including philosophy in the school curriculum.

“Critical thinkers are people who reason well, and who judge and act on the basis of their reasoning,” Hand says.

“To become critical thinkers, children must learn what constitutes good reasoning and why it’s important – and these are philosophical matters.

“Exposure to philosophy should be part of the basic educational entitlement of all children.”

In philosophy, the quality of arguments and the meanings of words are under constant scrutiny.

Winstanley said teachers could use popular books to initiate philosophical discussions. For example, Where the Wild Things Are could lead into debates on the existence of monsters, and why the main character’s mother sends him to his room without supper.

Winstanley said: “Better than any other subject, philosophy teaches children how to assess reasons, defend positions, define terms, evaluate sources of information and judge the value of arguments and evidence.”

Philosophy also allows younger children to engage in discussion and argument even before they know very much.”

Some funny ideas in the artcile. Children know a lot – even whan they are young. But yes, learninga bout ideas would be a usful start to education!

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