Teach philosophy in schools to help young people succeed, researchers say

  • Philosophy needs to be taught in schools to help more young people from all backgrounds, including the most disadvantaged, reach their potential, according to researchers
  • Argument set to be made at major event for politicians, head teachers, policymakers and journalists
  • Event will hear how research shows teaching philosophy in schools can improve the achievements of pupils and give young people the skills needed to scrutinise fake news and post-truth politics
  • Studies highlighting how philosophy helps to build critical intellectual skills, creativity and civic empowerment in teenagers will also be discussed

A school pupil learning philosophy during an outreach day at the University of Sheffield

Teaching philosophy in schools could empower more young people from all backgrounds and help them reach their full potential, researchers are set to argue at a major conference for politicians, teachers, policymakers and journalists.

Organised by Professor Angie Hobbs and Dr Josh Forstenzer from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Philosophy, the event will highlight the vital role philosophy can play in children and young people’s education and call for it to be fully embedded in primary and secondary school curriculums.

The event will present an overview of the latest research into the benefits of learning philosophy, such as how it can help to build critical intellectual skills, creative imagination and civic empowerment in children and teenagers.

Studies show that engaging pupils in philosophical activities can improve their achievements, including the most disadvantaged. Philosophy can also give children and young people the crucial skills needed to scrutinise and challenge fake news and post-truth politics.

Practical and affordable mechanisms through which philosophy can be integrated into the curriculum will be presented at the event, along with details of how philosophy can be used to support school efforts to enrich educational experiences and better respond to regulations.

Professor Angie Hobbs, Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy, said: “Increased philosophy provision in both primary and secondary schools can do so much to help young people from all backgrounds actualise their potential and live fulfilled, flourishing lives.

“In addition to clarity of thought and reasoning, it has been shown to assist with both literacy and numeracy, and is being tested in respect of imaginative creativity, empathy, and resistance to various forms of indoctrination. It helps provide the training in mental rigour, flexibility and resilience that the 21st century so clearly requires.

“This major event at the Royal Society of Arts gathers together many of the UK’s leading practitioners and academics, with interventions from key politicians and cultural figures. It is aimed at politicians, civil servants, teachers, journalists and other policy-makers and opinion-formers and seeks to bring out lasting change.”

Dr Josh Forstenzer from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Philosophy, added: “The chief philosophical practices of formulating questions, engaging in reasoned discussion, as well as seeking clarification and mutual understanding among disparate views are directly related to the development of crucial democratic and civic skills. In our age of post-truth politics and increasing political polarisation, philosophy can be a transformational path to rekindling public dialogue and bolstering reflective civic agency among the young.

“Robust and respectful discussions, compassionate and critical attempts to understand one another, and clear and creative attempts to respond to the most pressing ethical dilemmas are at the heart of philosophical engagement and successful collective problem solving. It is time we ensure everyone has the necessary tools to engage in both.”

The event, Philosophy in Schools: Enriched Curriculum, Enriched Lives, is being held on Tuesday 19 November 2019 between 1pm and 7:30pm at the Royal Society of Arts, London.

For details and tickets, visit: https://engagedphilosophy.org/when-where-what/

Additional information

Philosophy at the University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

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For further information please contact:

Sean Barton
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852