Our education system is failing our children, for 25 years education policy has followed a road that has led us to the bottom of OECD tables. The Philosophy Foundation wants to use the opportunity of UNESCO World Philosophy Day to bring young people (8-13) from state schools across London to Westminster to showcase philosophy in schools, and have the students put some tough questions about education to decision-makers by running a philosophical enquiry on ‘what is education for?'

THE PROBLEM:

"Reading, writing and arithmetic have not improved in 55 years as teachers have been teaching to the test rather than developing understanding" Cambridge Primary Review, the most comprehensive enquiry into primary education in 40 years.

England is the only country in the developed world where the generation approaching retirement is more literate and numerate than the youngest adults, according to the first skills survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Out of 24 nations, young adults in England (aged 16-24) rank 22nd for literacy and 21st for numeracy.

Over the last 5 years research* into children and education has consistently highlighted the problem of communication difficulties and the knock on effects this has on behaviour, learning and emotional relationships. Furthermore schools are struggling to reach their targets in maths and science and reports both within the UK and EU indicate that this is due to emphasis being put on teaching to test 'knowledge' rather than deepening understanding. Memorisation and recall have been valued over enquiry and creativity, academic subjects are suffering and children are leaving school without the skills necessary for them to be able to actively participate in society.

The Confederation of British Industry has reported on the impact of education on business, and notes that school leavers lack the right skills for the workplace, specifically problem solving, self-management, communication and team-work.

THE SOLUTION:

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"Our children are going into such a changing world. We can't predict what they're going to need in terms of knowledge, but one thing we can give them is confidence and a sense of how to learn. Philosophy gives them those skills." Kathy Palmer, Headteacher.

The Philosophy Foundation is an award winning educational charity that aims to foster critical and creative thinking for all with a particular focus on disadvantaged schools to help raise attainment and learning. 

  • Philosophy as a discipline is concerned with developing conceptual understanding - from curriculum subjects to ethics, as well as developing the ability to apply this understanding to the world.
  • Children learn problem-solving, complex reasoning, formulation and analysis of arguments; second-order / meta-level thinking; justification, coherence and consistency; generality (the ability to be able to apply concepts learnt across disciplines or topics); abstract and hypothetical thinking.
  • Philosophical enquiry also develops speaking and listening skills, crucial for building confidence, literacy, effective communication and emotional resilience.

Since the publication of Philosophy, a School of Freedom, a study on the state of philosophy teaching, UNESCO has given international impetus to encouraging philosophy teaching at all levels as a significant contribution to quality education. 

talking ball 2We are the only charity in the world that specifically trains and accredits philosophy graduates to do philosophy in primary and secondary schools with our proprietorial method, which has been recognised for its excellence by leading educationalist from around the world. Our work is also recognised and supported by both the Royal Institute of Philosophy and the British Philosophical Association.

Amanda Crook, Primary Teacher at John Ball Primary School: “Even children with significant special needs have felt confident in expressing opinions and thoughts about quite complex ideas that they might never have been given the opportunity to consider in any other area of their lives.”

You can read more testimonials from teachers on our website.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

In 2005 UNESCO established World Philosophy Day, highlighting the importance of this discipline, especially for young people, underlining that “philosophy is a discipline that encourages critical and independent thought and is capable of working towards a better understanding of the world and promoting tolerance and peace ”.

On World Philosophy Day this year we are running two events: one at the Houses of Parliament, and one for the public at Conway Hall. The events will be used to engage the public in philosophical thought, and to promote the teaching of philosophy to decision-makers in parliament and in the education sector.

We will be taking children from across our primary and secondary schools in London to Westminster to run a philosophy session with MPs. This will showcase our work, and also give young people a unique opportunity to engage politicians with the education debate - something that is central to their lives. The support you give will help us with the logistical costs associated with such an event, including transportation, publicity and core team organisation. 

If we can surpass our target this will help us fund the second event, to be run on the 21st of November in Conway Hall. This will be a celebration of philosophy through the medium of storytelling and drama to which you are all invited!

"Philosophy is not a niche culture, but an integral part of free, open and critical citizenship." UNESCO.

WILL YOU HELP US?

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* including Ofsted, The Rose Review, Cambridge Primary Review, Confederation of British Industry’s ‘Fulfilling Potential’ report & CBI’s & I CAN Parliamentary Report