The beneficial effects of philosophy on children

Philosophy is one of the disciplines most seriously affected by the rise productivist mentality: What does not produce added value in a clear and obvious way is despised and relegated to the trunk of useless and useless elements.

this one degradation of the value of philosophy we have seen this very clearly in the university sphere, but in compulsory education the outlook is not particularly favorable.

Philosophy and children

Why invest time and money in promoting a line of knowledge and skills that will be truncated in the labor market?

To these sociological arguments, we must add psychological arguments. It is a common idea that many schoolchildren should not benefit from philosophy, as developmental psychology shows. difficulty (or inability) of young children to develop with abstract ideas.

See in this regard the theory of developmental stages of Jean Piaget. Of course, studies on the development of cerebral connectivity (necessary to create abstractions, which are properties shared by the most varied objects) emphasize that this is not fully consolidated until the third decade of life. . Is critical thinking education for the little ones therefore unnecessary?

Beyond content, practice

Recent research suggests that teaching philosophy to children can produce a significant improvement in their level of intelligence.. The study, carried out by Spanish researchers (Roberto Colom, Félix García Moriyón, Carmen Magre, Elena Morilla) and whose results have been published in Analytic Teaching and Philosophical Praxis, is a longitudinal study in which a follow-up for 10 years, to from the age of 6 until the end of secondary education, a group that received philosophy lessons every week (455 boys and girls) and a control group that did not receive these lessons ( 321 boys and girls). The control group and the treatment group had the same socio-economic profile and both belonged to students from private schools in the Madrid region.

The results show that members of the treatment group they increased their CI by 7 points (General cognitive ability) and 4 and 7 points in fluid and crystallized intelligence, respectively. In addition, philosophy courses with children reduces the accumulation over the years of the number of students in the “risk zone” (With a relatively low CI score), a typical problem for educational institutions.

Regarding the influence of these sessions on personality traits, students of philosophy from an early age tendency to extroversion, honesty and emotion. These characteristics could be reinforced, rather than by the content of the courses themselves, by the mode of instruction demanded by the philosophy to be taught in the classroom: focus groups, debate to challenge preconceptions and the standing proposition. of questions. Philosophy with children it requires a much more democratic class structure in which the student is an active subject with the rest of the classmates and the teacher becomes a facilitator and guide of student research (which connects very well with Vygotsky’s theory of the near development zone).

A new paradigm

If we recap, we will see that the peculiarity of philosophy is not so much the content of these studies, Understood as an “information file” which is transmitted unilaterally from the teacher to the pupils, but the role of this discipline as a framework for asking questions and proposing answers, that is to say developing a way of seeing the world. This dynamic of questioning should not be limited to subjects that cannot be covered by the mind of the child, just as sport is important for everyone, regardless of their ability to gain muscle mass.

Philosophy in itself can provide a healthy habit and training in transcendent problems that will come at later stages of development, as well as provide a space in which to work on managing intersubjectivity and understanding with others.

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