Primary school children to be taught philosophy lessons

    Last updated at 18:00pm on 6th February 2008

    Children as young as five are pondering the meaning of life in new philosophy lessons for primary school pupils.

    Dozens of schools have signed up to teach classes which encourage pupils to grapple with issues as profound as religion, nature and human free will. The teaching kits have been developed by staff at Gallions Primary, in Beckton, East London, who introduced philosophy lessons six years ago.

    They say the courses have helped improve both results and behaviour.

    Teachers say that instead of "thumping each other" in the playground, pupils now challenge each other's ideas when they disagree.

    The Philosophy for Children course has proved so successful the school is now selling a DVD guide to teaching it, which has so far sold 100 copies in the UK and 50 abroad.
    At Gallions, formal lessons in philosophy begin at five, but preparation starts even earlier, in the school's nursery.

    Three-year-olds are introduced to the concept of justifcation through simple exercises such as getting them to sit on a "magic carpet" and then asking where they plan to travel on it and why.

    Five-year-olds are challenged to consider why music sounds harmonious and people are more likely to shout outside.

    Paul Jackson, one of the two head teachers at the school, said: "Gallions opened in 1999 on a new estate in the East End, with all the problems that an inner London estate brings with it.

    "Virtually everyone that came here had some kind of emotional or behavioural difficulty."
    The school brought in a trained consultant to instigate philosophical discussions and the youngsters immediately took to it.

    Philosophy is now taught across the board in place of citizenship lessons and the school has hired a dedicated "philosophy for children" teacher, Lisa Naylor.

    She said: "I have witnessed children who barely spoke English and children who had very little self-confidence debating fervently whether the sound of rain on the window was or wasn't music."

    She encountered difficulties at first getting children involved without being aggressive towards their classmates.
    But soon pupils were able to "challenge each other's ideas in an assertive and non-aggressive way", leading to improvements in behaviour.

    Why do people shout when they go outside?
    Why does the music sing so nicely?

    Why do people treat animals like slaves?
    Why are there so many answers to God's questions?

    Is life a journey?
    Does luck exist or is it a myth?
    Do we ever fully appreciate what we have?
    Does beauty represent strangeness?
    If life is a puzzle, does it need to be completed? Could a religion exist that had no believers?

  2. i actually like that, a challenged mind is a thinking one.

    LMAO @ "why do people shout when they go outside" thats a good one
  3. This is so awesome! I LOVE this!!!!!!! :biggrin:

    About time, that's all I have to say.
  4. Lol they're going to go crazy and ask even more questions.
  5. ^Children are the best philosophers.

    The day that people stop asking these types of questions is the day that humans will cease to evolve.
  6. Great idea it opens up discussions and teaches them to appreciate others and their opinions....I would love to be able to hear their responses and reasoning.
  7. i so agree! philosophy is better than math actually LOL

    the little prince and sophie's world are 2 books that attempt to teach children about philosophy behind the story.
  8. How perfect for little children! They come up with the best thoughts! They're some of the best philosophers out there!
  9. It is so important for children to be taught HOW to think instead of WHAT to think. We are graduating young people who know lots of answers but cannot ask any questions, and I belileve that makes for a very dangerous situation. Bravo to this program.