Think before you teach philosophy

21st October 2011 at 01:00

Few, if any, of the discussions about the teaching of philosophy discuss its developmental appropriateness for children ("Time to take the won't out of Kant", TESpro, 30 September). Academic philosophy is a quintessentially and one-sidedly rational activity that, as your report states, is about "the study of concepts and conceptual schemas". Piaget, Rudolf Steiner and many other authorities strongly believe that if such study is imposed on children at this age, it's almost inevitable that the precariously subtle balance that exists in learning holistically with hand, heart, head and soul will be seriously disrupted.

Morever, just because children seem to be happy and performing well academically, it does not at all follow that the "active ingredient" in this success is the philosophy itself.

The pushing of philosophy in schools appears to be yet another manifestation of the "too much, too soon" syndrome. I can only assume that it is just another symptom of the massive cultural anxiety that exists around children being left behind, with the attendant erroneous view that to introduce children to adult-centric activities earlier and earlier is somehow good for them.

I fear that, in the long run, the very opposite will be the case.

Dr Richard House, Senior lecturer in psychotherapy and counselling, Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, department of psychology, Roehampton University.

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