Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Classroom philosophy proves a hit

Pupil at desk
Research suggest teaching philosophy can boost learning

Schools in Clackmannanshire that teach philosophy to young children are to be visited by an Australian professor keen to assess the impact of the subject.

In 2001 the area's local authority was the first in the UK to introduce philosophy into the curriculum for children as young as four.

Prof Phil Cam said he believed introducing the subject to youngsters can boost academic and social outcomes.

Philosophy is described as the study of existence, ethics and knowledge.

Clackmannanshire Council introduced the subject as part of its Curriculum for Excellence programme after research by the University of Dundee showed it could raise a child's IQ by as much as 6.5 points.

The subject was also shown in some cases to boost a child's emotional intelligence.

Dr Steve Trickey, senior educational psychologist, said: "The Clackmannanshire 'Thinking through Philosophy' project enabled schools to deliver several key abilities that underpin the four Curriculum for Excellence capacities.

Thinking and communication skills are at the heart of learning and are essential in all walks of life
Jim Goodall
Head of schools
"We obtained evidence following a detailed evaluation of the project that collaborative enquiry can enable pupils to think more independently, communicate more confidently and ultimately become more successful learners."

Prof Phil Cam, from the University of New South Wales, has been teaching philosophy to primary school children in Australia for the past 15 years.

He will be the keynote speaker at Clackmannanshire Council's Curriculum for Excellence Conference being held on Wednesday in Stirling.

About 100 delegates are expected to attend the event, including a party from Scandinavia keen to learn about the programme.

Jim Goodall, head of schools in the Wee County, added: "We believe that the type of dialogue that is developed when we work with pupils through philosophical enquiry is fundamental to the delivery of the Curriculum for Excellence in Clackmannanshire.

"Thinking and communication skills are at the heart of learning and are essential in all walks of life.

"We are delighted that Phil Cam, whose work is so highly regarded internationally, will not only attend the conference but influence the authority's next steps in its strategy to deliver the new curriculum."

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