Benefits of Teaching Philosophy in Primary School (updated)


A study suggests that teaching primary/elementary school students philosophy may benefit their language and math skills, with those from particularly disadvantaged backgrounds showing the most improvement:

Teaching philosophy to primary school children can improve their English and maths skills, according to a pilot study highlighting the value of training pupils to have inquiring minds. Children from deprived backgrounds benefited the most from philosophical debates about topics such as truth, fairness and knowledge, researchers from Durham University found. The 3,159 primary school pupils from 48 schools who took part in the trial saw their maths and reading scores improve by an average of two months. But the benefits were even more pronounced for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, whose reading skills improved by four months, their maths results by three months and their writing ability by two months.

There were other benefits as well from the program, which cost less than £30 per student:

Alexia Fox, assistant head teacher of Hinde House School in Sheffield, said: “Philosophy for Children has made a huge difference to the way our children interact with each other. In the playground, they can talk about their disagreements. They now respect other children’s points of view. In the classroom, their ideas are far more developed as they are better equipped to understand how others think and accept that these opinions are all valid. It is extremely valuable academically and socially.”

More at The IndependentThe Conversationand (via Paul Billingham) the BBC.
UPDATE (7/14/15): The study comes under some criticism here (via Meena Krishnamurthy).

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