Philosophy in the Classroom

Philosophy in the Classroom

Matthew Lipman
Ann Margaret Sharp
Frederick S. Oscanyan
Copyright Date: 1980
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Philosophy in the Classroom
    Book Description:

    This is a textbook for teachers that demonstrates how philosophical thinking can be used in teaching children. It begins with the assumption that what is taught in schools is not (and should not be) subject matter but rather ways of thinking. The main point is that the classroom should be converted into a community of inquiry, and that one can begin doing that with children. Based on the curriculum that Matt Lipman has developed at the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children, which he heads, this book describes the curriculum and explains its use. The text is self-contained, however.

    This revision is thorough-going and incorporates new chapters, as well as new material in old chapters. Part One focuses on the need of educational change and the importance of philosophical inquiry in developing new approaches. Part Two discusses curriculum and teaching methodology, including teacher behavior conducive to helping children. Part Three deals with developing logic skills and moral judgment. It concludes with a chapter on the sorts of philosophical themes pertinent to ethical inquiry for children: the right and the fair, perfect and right, free will and determinism, change and growth, truth, caring, standards and rules, thinking and thinking for oneself. Education, in this sense, is not a matter of dispensing information; it is the process of assisting in the growth of the whole individual.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0563-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. I. Encouraging Children to Be Thoughtful
    • 1 The Need for Educational Redesign
      (pp. 3-11)

      A visitor from a planet whose inhabitants were all incorrigibly rational would no doubt find in our educational system much cause for wonder. It is not that we are unaware of the inefficiency of that system. Rather, the cause for wonder would be the method with which we seek to come to grips with that inefficiency. Over and over again, we have recourse to remediation rather than to redesign. And when the remediation turns out to be inefficient, compensatory approaches proliferate in an effort to remedy the ineffectual remediation. The fundamental source of the system’s failure to distribute education effectively...

    • 2 Thinking and the School Curriculum
      (pp. 12-30)

      All of us—not just children—have known what it is for things to lack meaning. It is a deeply disturbing experience, much more so than simply being puzzled.

      When we are puzzled, we suspect there is an answer somewhere that will yield understanding. But meaninglessness can be terrifying. Children who sit at their desks and are inundated with factual information that seems jumbled, pointless, and unconnected to their lives have a direct sense of the meaninglessness of their experience. Meaninglessness is a much more fundamental problem than simply not knowing what to believe. Children who are experiencing it desperately...

    • 3 Philosophy: The Lost Dimension in Education
      (pp. 31-40)

      As adults, we have learned to accept the perplexities that emerge from our daily experience, and to take them pretty much for granted. Many of us no longer wonder why things are the way they are. We have come to accept parts of life as puzzling and enigmatic because that is the way they have always been.

      Many adults have ceased to wonder because they feel that there is no time for wondering, or because they have come to the conclusion that it is simply unprofitable and unproductive to engage in reflection about things that cannot be changed anyhow. Many...

    • 4 Some Educational Presuppositions of Philosophy for Children
      (pp. 41-48)

      Concern for the educational possibilities of philosophy as an elementary school subject suggests that attention should be given to what this curious innovation must presuppose. Exploring such presuppositions might in turn throw new light on the always murky connections between education and philosophy.

      In the past, discussions about philosophy for young people have assumed that the students would be no younger than of secondary school age. The prospect of encouraging philosophical reflection among elementary school children was literally unthinkable. Such discussions have further tended to assume that the difficulties hitherto experienced in presenting philosophy to young people lay in the...

  5. II. Aims and Methods of Philosophy for Children
    • 5 The Philosophy for Children Curriculum
      (pp. 51-81)

      Let us assume that the discipline known as philosophy, until now a college-level subject, is to be constructed so that it can be integrated into the elementary and secondary levels of education. Obviously there would be needed, to bring this about, a concerted effort to prepare teachers to teach philosophy on these levels, and a new curriculum. The preparation of teachers will be discussed in a later chapter and in Appendix A. For the moment, let us consider what such a curriculum would look like.

      Since as yet there is only one philosophy for children curriculum—that published by the...

    • 6 Teaching Methodology: Value Considerations and Standards of Practice
      (pp. 82-101)

      Encouraging children to think philosophically is not an easy task for teachers to master. In many ways, it is more of an art than a technique, an art comparable to leading an orchestra or directing a play. And since, like any art, it takes practice, teachers should not be discouraged the first or second time they use the curriculum in the classroom.

      As one goes through one of the philosophy for children curricula, one learns how important to its success is proper timing in the introduction and sequential presentation of materials. Teaching philosophy involves eliciting themes from students and then...

    • 7 Guiding a Philosophical Discussion
      (pp. 102-128)

      Philosophy is a discipline that considers alternative ways of acting, creating, and speaking. To discover these alternatives, philosophers persistently appraise and examine their own assumptions and presuppositions, question what other people normally take for granted, and speculate imaginatively concerning ever more comprehensive frames of reference. These activities in which philosophers engage are the outgrowth of philosophical training. Philosophical education is most successful when it encourages and enables people to engage in critical questioning and inventive reflection. Given this philosophical conduct as our educational objective, our immediate problem is this: what teaching methodology will ensure the production of the finest ideas...

  6. III. Applying Thinking Skills to School Experience
    • 8 Encouraging Children to Be Logical
      (pp. 131-152)

      Logic has three meanings in philosophy for children. It meansformal logic, with rules governing sentence structure and connections between sentences, and it also stands forgiving reasons, which includes seeking and evaluating reasons for something said or done. Finally, logic meansacting rationally, and concerns standards for reasonable behavior. Each of these topics is approached in a different way in philosophy for children.

      Because the rules of formal logic govern sentences, they can be used to help develop a kind of self-awareness. They provide a means for grasping and examining one’s thoughts in a structured, clear-headed way. The rules...

    • 9 Can Moral Education Be Divorced from Philosophical Inquiry?
      (pp. 153-187)

      Presumptions are common in every domain of human activity. In the law, it is presumed that persons are innocent until they can be proven guilty. In scientific inquiry, it is presumed that events are caused, even when evidence of such causes is lacking, or when explanations can be offered only on a statistical basis.

      Likewise with ethical inquiry. The variable factor that distinguishes older from younger persons is experience, and it would be shocking if we were to level accusations against young children for doing things that, due to a mere lack of information, they did not know were inadvisable...

    • 10 Philosophical Themes in Ethical Inquiry for Children
      (pp. 188-204)

      Junior high school is neither the earliest point at which children can be introduced to ethical inquiry nor is it the latest. But it is a point at which such inquiry can be pursued in a considerably more systematic way than it could have been in earlier childhood. Partly this is because children in junior high school have a greater command of logical reasoning and partly it is because they have a greater concern with interpersonal and social aspects of life.

      Before turning our attention to a particular ethical inquiry curriculum, let us consider what is involved in encouraging children...

    (pp. 207-216)
    (pp. 217-224)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 225-231)