Normally, this site focuses on higher education, but it is worth taking some time to recognize that philosophy is an excellent subject for all students. A recent large-scale study in England shows that taking philosophy classes helps even younger students succeed in all of their subjects, especially science and math.
According to the study, nine and ten-year olds who took the once-a-week philosophy course:
“increased math and reading scores by the equivalent of two extra months of teaching, even though the course was not designed to improve literacy or numeracy. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds saw an even bigger leap in performance: reading skills increased by four months, math by three months, and writing by two months. Teachers also reported a beneficial impact on students’ confidence and ability to listen to others.”
There is a reason why philosophy is at the core of a general education. It is foundational and helps analytic and critical skills, as well as all-around comprehension. This has real consequences for grades and testing. As the article from Quartz explains,
“’The beneficial effects of philosophy lasted for two years, with the intervention group continuing to outperform the control group long after the classes had finished. “They had been given new ways of thinking and expressing themselves,’” said Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF. “’They had been thinking with more logic and more connected ideas.’”
It is worth noting that the Quartz article gives a shout-out to Matthew Lippman a New Jersey philosopher who designed the Philosophy for Children curriculum. Lippman helped train Professor Jack Russell Weinstein who runs Philosophy is a Great Major, and Weinstein himself interviewed the heir to Lippman’s institute, Maughn Gregory, on Why? Radio. You can listen to that episode by clicking here.
To read the study, click here.
To read the Quartz article, click here.