Learning is an essential process in the development of the human mind. This is partly due to the education we received in schools and institutes, although it is true that not everyone has the same way of studying the different subjects that are part of compulsory education. . As they say, there are children who receive numbers better, and others the letters.
Find a point of balance at which the difficulty level of all subjects is affordable for all the little ones, it’s a challenge. But it is interesting to note that a simple change in the existing curriculum of early childhood education could improve their performance in other subjects.
A project in England shows that if children learn philosophy, they show improvements in other subjects such as math and language; a pleasant surprise.
Philosophy helps from an early age
This project was overseen by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), an independent UK charity that aims to make education equal for all, regardless of the income level of family members, with the aim that children and young people can unleash all their talent. without any limitation. The idea of the EEF was verify the effects of philosophy lessons on younger students in the manner of a control test, as is done with drug tests.
48 different schools participated in the study. Of these, 22 acted as a control group, i.e., followed the normal pace of lessons, and the remaining 26 students they received a weekly philosophy course lasting several hours. The lessons covered topics such as truth, justice, friendship, or wisdom, and included time to reflect on the answers and discuss topics.
Learn to think from philosophy
After analyzing the effects of philosophy courses on the level of skills acquired by boys and girls (aged 9 to 10), the researchers recorded an improvement of the participants in their linguistic and mathematical skills.
What was observed is that the children who attended these classes improved their math and reading skills as if they had received two additional months of instruction there.
This improvement was most evident in children with worse grades who showed greater progression; his reading ability improved as he would have done in another 4 months; in mathematics, this advancement in learning corresponds to three months and in writing to two months.
In addition, teachers reported that there was a beneficial impact on the relationship between his students and there was also evidence of both greater student confidence and improved communication skills.
Creating the foundations for learning
The beneficial effects of philosophy lasted for at least two years, Period during which the intervention group continued to outperform the control group in the subjects analyzed. According to the organizers, this improvement could be due to the fact that children were given the opportunity to use new ways of thinking and expressing themselves, which allowed them to better connect their ideas, think more logically and to create larger units of knowledge.
This is nothing new
England is not the first country to test the benefits of teaching philosophy to minors. The program used by the EEF is known as Philosophy for Children (P4C), i was designed in the 1970s by philosopher Matthew Lipman in New Jersey. This project, already discussed in this article, aimed to teach new ways of thinking through philosophical dialogue. The program has already been hosted in 60 different countries, including Argentina and Spain.
In the case of England, the project was hosted by the Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Inquiry and Reflection in Education (Sapere), which is now also part of the EEF.
The concentrated efforts behind this organization have not been focused on the original idea of reading philosophical texts by Plato or Aristotle, but rather on reading stories, poems or even watching video clips that promote discussion. of philosophical subjects. The aim was to help children generate responses, as well as promote constructive conversations and develop arguments.
Advantages and disadvantages
Among the advantages presented by EEF, it was also found that 63% of the students who received this “additional” training obtained good results in their subsequent studies. As also indicated by the President of the EEF, Kevin Collin, this program is a good support for disadvantaged children, referring to the greater benefit observed in this class of pupils.
Among the downsides, as is almost always the case in these cases, is the financial hurdle, as the program costs each participating school around £ 16 (€ 23) for each pupil who has received this course. It would have to be part of compulsory public education to bear the costs.