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What does philosophy do? Understanding the work that philosophy does: A review of the literature on the teaching and learning of philosophy in schools

Authors:

Lynne Bowyer ,

The New Zealand Centre for Science & Citizenship, NZ
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Claire Amos,

The New Zealand Centre for Science & Citizenship, NZ
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Deborah Stevens

The New Zealand Centre for Science & Citizenship, NZ
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Abstract

This paper is based on a literature review of articles discussing the teaching and learning of philosophy in primary and secondary schools. The purpose of this review was to address two research questions:

What is philosophy?

What does philosophy do?

This paper addresses the second question—What does philosophy do?—by gathering together research that focuses on and discusses the impact of philosophy in the classroom.

Two distinct claims emerge from the literature. The first claim is that philosophy improves academic and cognitive abilities, where the idea of ‘cognition’ is captured by forms of reasoning that can be tested and measured. The evidence for improvement in academic and cognitive abilities takes the form of IQ scores, Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT) and school academic assessments, including norm-referenced tests of reading, reasoning, and other curriculum-related assessments. The second claim is that engaging with the world philosophically promotes the art of living well together. It is argued that philosophical engagement is a collaborative endeavour, aimed at cultivating understanding through respectful interactions that are open to exploring, questioning and challenging aspects of the world. The outcome of engaging in philosophical conversations is personal and social transformation.

How to Cite: Bowyer, L., Amos, C. and Stevens, D., 2021. What does philosophy do? Understanding the work that philosophy does: A review of the literature on the teaching and learning of philosophy in schools. Journal of Philosophy in Schools, 8(1), pp.71–103.
Published on 17 Aug 2021.
Peer Reviewed

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