Philosophy in Primary Schools?
Article first published online: 10 AUG 2012
© 2012 The Author. Journal compilation © 2012 Journal of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain
Journal of Philosophy of Education
Volume 46, Issue 3, pages 449–460, August 2012
How to Cite
White, J. (2012), Philosophy in Primary Schools?. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 46: 449–460. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9752.2012.00860.x
- Issue published online: 7 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 10 AUG 2012
The article is a critical discussion of the aims behind the teaching of philosophy in British primary schools. It begins by reviewing the recent Special Issue of the Journal of Philosophy of Education Vol 45 Issue 2 2011 on ‘Philosophy for Children in Transition’, so as to see what light this might throw on the topic just mentioned. The result is patchy; many, but not all, of the papers in the Special Issue deal with issues far removed from the classroom. Insights from the more practical papers, especially those working within the legacy of Matthew Lipman, are woven into the ensuing discussion. This describes two overlapping strands of work in primary philosophy, one focusing more than the other on topics familiar in specialised philosophy courses for older people. The article then discusses two kinds of aim behind primary philosophy, one to do with induction into philosophy as a discipline, the other to do with the enhancement of reasoning abilities. It finds both of these problematic. While welcoming more attention to different kinds of reasoning, it does not see this as a reason for teaching philosophy in particular. The article concludes with an account of possible reasons why primary philosophy has become increasingly popular over the last two decades.