Philosophy education in schools

Research Policy Office
Friday 20 February 2015

Coordinated by Dr Lisa Jones, under the auspices of a Philosophy-in-Schools Programme (POPS), philosophers from the Department of Philosophy have informed, supported, and developed the work of teachers of philosophy in primary and secondary education, principally within Scotland where the teaching of philosophy has doubled in the last 10 years. To date, teachers from one-third of all Scottish centres (schools/colleges) delivering the Scottish Philosophy Higher have received accredited philosophy training via a formal programme of continuing professional development. An annual ‘Study Day for Higher Philosophy students’ held in St Andrews, consisting of a day of lectures/workshops delivered to S5 (year 11-12) students and their teachers from schools all over Scotland. Materials used in Study Days, masterclasses and in the online modules have helped in the design and delivery of the Scottish Higher syllabi.
Additionally, Professor Berys Gaut’s novel philosophical work on creativity has had an impact on the teaching of philosophy to very young children, mediated both through a book for teachers co-authored by Prof. Gaut and Morag Gaut,  (Philosophy for Young Children: A Practical Guide, Routledge, 2011), and by events and personal contacts. In one primary school, HMI inspectors had commented specifically on the advanced thinking skills of the pupils, which their teacher credits to a method for carrying out philosophical enquiry sessions with very young children that she learned about in a series of workshops at St Andrews as part of the ‘curriculum for excellence’.

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