More on the Benefits of Philosophy for Kids

An increasing number of American children from low-income backgrounds are coming to kindergarten lagging in both academic and non-cognitive skills critical to educational success…. Fortunately, there’s a growing — yet under-appreciated and therefore under-reported — method of teaching that’s been showing tangible progress in student academic achievement, including for kids from disadvantaged groups. It’s the Philosophy for Children movement, also known as P4C….

Unlike other philosophy classes in public schools, the focus in a P4C classroom is on the thoughts, ideas, and questions of the students themselves, rather than any traditional philosophical topic. The teacher’s role is to help foster a climate of critical thinking, guiding and informing student inquiries, helping them pay attention to the quality of their reasoning, and making sure they realize that they’re meeting on terms of equality and mutual respect — all with an underlying commitment to rational thinking as the mechanism for making better judgments.

That’s Steve Neumann, in a guest post at The Washington Post’s “Answer Sheet” blog.

He references the Durham University study (previously) and another one conducted in Texas:

A study just published in the Journal of Philosophy in Schools bolsters Gregory’s claims for the power of P4C. Several faculty members from Sam Houston State University in Texas decided to replicate a 2007 study conducted in Scotland on the effects of a P4C program. The original study was one of few randomized, controlled clinical trials assessing the impact of a P4C program. It also showed significant gains in cognitive abilities by children who participated in weekly philosophical group discussions.

This new study found that the seventh-grade students who had experienced the P4C program showed significant gains relative to those in the seventh-grade control group, providing evidence for the main contentions of the original 2007 study — namely, that “regular, one hour per week, structured community of inquiry P4C sessions are a relatively powerful educational intervention which boosts students’ cognitive abilities significantly while doing so at a very small cost both in materials needed and in instructional time.”

I think I need to add a “pre-college” section to the Value of Philosophy pages.

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