Philosophy in schools again

There was an excellent item on Ockham’s Razor this morning. Queensland teacher Peter Ellerton discusses the importance of properly teaching skills of reasoning as a part of a well rounded education. He notes that many teaching institutions claim to imbue their students with ‘critical thinking’ skills. On examination, however, they are merely paying lip service to the ideal, ticking the boxes and using the latest buzzwords. There is often a poor understanding of what critical thinking actually involves. As Ellerton notes, these skills have been understood since ancient times, but they need to be explicitly taught. Here’s an extract:

As it happens, after a career of teaching Mathematics and Science, I now teach a subject in Queensland schools called Philosophy and Reason. I was quite struck by how the three strands of the course, Deductive Logic, Critical Thinking and Philosophy, manage to get across just about every thinking skill I have come to believe is essential for good citizenship. Not only that, but state-wide testing shows these students performing at the very highest level across all scientific, numeracy and literacy arenas. As they come from both humanities and science backgrounds and are often unaware in choosing it of the exact nature of the subject, there may be some justification in labelling the subject matter itself as the cause of this worthy effect.

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