There are many reasons why philosophy is a key element in helping our students form their own ideas. Therefore, we can consider it not only as an academic tool, but also as a facilitator of subsequent deep personal development.
Lipman puts forward an interesting proposal in this regard, in which philosophy is not made to be simply studied at school, but rather to be studied across students’ education, an important nuance to bear in mind. This approach makes philosophy an essential addition to the curriculum throughout the academic life of our students at the Best Schools in Spain. Philosophy or the philosophical method at school evolves with children as their learning becomes more complex.
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Philosophy as a teaching method
The philosophical method searches and allows for a path towards education that creates individuals committed to self-correcting exploration and creativity. Therefore, we try to encourage children to think philosophically in order to turn the classroom into a community of philosophical inquiry, creating a commitment to work in accordance with investigation procedures and motivating them to use responsible research techniques that open them up to evidence and reason. Children will interiorise this way of behaving, investigating, learning and dealing with different problems, and it will become a natural reaction for them.
Through the philosophical methodology, we encourage cross-curricular learning throughout children’s education in our schools, as it ensures that the information received is not perceived as individual, separate subjects. On the contrary, this method of working and learning contextualises all disciplines and the relationships between them become clear. In other words, we are giving children an essential tool to encourage autonomous learning, incentivising students to develop their ability to relate knowledge as it is presented. Therefore, their perception of reality becomes much more comprehensive and reflexive, while the student also becomes aware of the evolution of their knowledge.
The classroom as a community of philosophical inquiry
In order to achieve the above, the community of philosophical inquiry formed in each classroom of the Best Schools in Spain must meet some initial requirements that are intrinsic to a philosophical way of working, for example openness to reason, mutual respect not only among students but also towards the teacher, and, of course, the absence of indoctrination. This turns the classroom into a field where philosophical reflection is effectively stimulated. This does not mean that teachers are on the same level as students, as they have the necessary tools to support them in terms of the techniques and procedures to follow; rather, it means that diverse points of view are respected within the discussion, regardless of whether they are expressed by teachers or students.
Our teachers work to ensure that all our students have the resources they need to manage and defend their stance in philosophical discussions. This is done while respecting students’ stage of development at the time this work method is introduced into the classroom, as the seeds of philosophy must be sown and grow slowly, evolving as children become more capable of making increasingly complex reflections and arguments and enriching both the individual and the entire group. In addition, the first step our teachers take is to set aside a space where children are aware of what they are doing, aware that a debate will take place and that they need to listen to similar and opposing opinions, which must be respected and argued.
We could think that all of this leads to epistemological realism, but it is really about defending the right to disagree or agree with the ideas of others. Students are encouraged to reflect on and reason why others have taken their position in the debate. They are guided to develop their own ideas in order to gradually introduce the philosophical method into the other subjects they study.
Philosophy in the classroom as a key element in citizenship education
All of the above is directly connected to one of the most important aspects of children’s education. In addition to providing them with academic knowledge, they also get the skills they need to develop personally, allowing them to live successfully in a constantly changing society where others will be present in all of their future actions and decisions. This is why the philosophical method, or philosophy as a discipline from a young age, is given the importance it deserves to achieve such as important educational objective for the future personal development of students in society.
With this approach, the Best Schools in Spain aim to make students aware right from the very start of schooling that human beings must learn to live together in a group, without losing their individuality. In other words, we encourage them to learn to respect the opinions of others. In this way, students go through a process in which the classroom becomes a learning community and, therefore, a small reflection of adult life in society, all while developing their philosophical reasoning and academic and personal progress. Moreover, we ensure students are aware of the need to reflect on ethical, moral and political problems that our current world and society will hold for them in the future.