Teaching Philosophy is a Great Idea

Recently the TED Blog highlighted a study noted by the British Psychological Society. The study taught 105 children for 16 months at 1 hour a week philosophical inquiry. The results of the study showed: “Compared with 72 control children, the philosophy children showed significant improvements on tests of their verbal, numerical and spatial abilities”.

Perhaps this is the key to making our children smarter and raising the educational standards, teaching philosophy. I wouldn’t suggest that this is the only thing that can be done to improve the educational system, especially here in the US. However it certainly couldn’t hurt and according to the study would even help. The logic behind why it helps is certainly pretty clear, philosophical inquiry aims to have the students ask questions and reason out on mostly on their own the answers. This encourages several things among the students, independence, reasoning, logic and a questioning nature. All of these are great things to harness in a productive member of student. I would love to see the education system harness this idea and start teaching children philosophy.

I took debate in high school and it was an amazing experience. The sheer experience of being forced to examine an issue from all points of view and make reasonable and logical arguments for these different views was a valuable experience. It taught me several things, First to always provide a good reason as for what I think or believe in, Second educate myself on a host of issues for who sounds like an expert may not be and could be wrong. Debate forced me to both gain a firmer standing on those ideas that I believed in and to give up those which when examined came up short.

I am a firm advocate in both that education can solve a host of problems and also that the education that students receive should be wide and varied. Rather than limiting say an engineering major to just engineering core related class, I would like to see engineers being forced to take more liberal arts classes. There is an important reason that the culture that is widely considered the most important to Western Society is the one that not only displayed impressive engineering, science and architecture but right along side all of that was philosophy, sculpture, poetry and debate. This same culture is also considered the modern day root of democracy.

 Also to link back to what I talked about yesterday, students would be forced to again vet sources. Always consider the source of your information, is it worth even listening to? Far too often the problem isn’t merely bad information it is bad information coming from bad sources.

Justin Yost is a full-time Software Engineer and a part time educator. A graduate of Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in computer science, Justin relishes programming and learning more about anything and everything. When not working, Justin occasionally gives talks at the local PHP Meetup. In his free time, Justin enjoys backpacking and reading science fiction books.


Posted in Science
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