This may sound surprising, but philosophical discussions about truth, righteousness and goodness are leading to moderate yet remarkable improvement in primary school pupils’ maths and literacy. Having noticed such phenomenon during the experiment held in British schools, experts are yet unable to explain it.
During one year more than 3000 pupils from 48 state primary schools across England participated in the project known as “Philosophy for Children” which resulted in significant improvement in maths, reading and writing, as if they’ve spent two months taking catch-up classes. Scientists from Durham University, particularly Stephen Gorard, consider this experiment successful and worth continuation. Teachers were given special training for this lessons so they would participate in discussions not as mentors but as moderators, while pupils sat in circles were the ones responsible for debates. 8-11 years old children were holding a discussion of such issues as righteousness or bullying.
Teachers have noted positive changes in classroom’s psychological climate after these disputes, and seniors reported that children began to treat their peers more friendlily as well as pay more attention to others’ prospective, estimate themselves higher and express their thoughts more freely.
Durham University was awarded a grant for “Philosophy for children” program from Nuffield Foundation. Such movement emerged in USA in the 1970s. Experiment held in British schools was supported by Education Endowment foundation as well as British charity and Sapere (Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education).
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