Is there a future for Philosophy in schools?

12 July 2018

Experts argue for ‘embedding’ skills with class teachers

Global experts attending a major conference on The Future of Philosophy in Schools today (Wednesday, 11 July, 2018) agreed that the teaching of philosophy should be ‘embedded’ in primary school curriculums and facilitated by the class teacher.

Organised by the Federation of Australasian Philosophy in Schools Association (FAPSA), the three-day conference (9 July-11July),  held on The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus, brought together 43 presenters from Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Norway, The Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

Attendees, including academics, teachers, practitioners and policy makers discussed the role of philosophy in 21st century education settings.

The conference culminated in a public event on July 11 – attended by more than 100 people, which was dominated by the question of responsibility for the teaching of ethics at primary school level.

Questions were directed to an expert panel featuring Professor Michael Hand from the University of Birmingham (UK), Dr Laura D’Olimpio, Chair FAPSA (Australasia) and Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, The University of Notre Dame, Professor Sandra Lynch from Notre Dame’s Institute for Ethics and Society, Professor John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University (Texas) and Mr David Gribble CEO, Constable Care Child Safety Foundation.

“It is important that teachers are trained, provided with the skills of facilitating discussions and interrogating ideas.  Ethics should not be just for those who choose to go to ethics classes but it should be for all children and therefore should be embedded across the entire curriculum,” said Professor Sandra Lynch.

“There is evidence that the teaching of ethics has resulted in increasing self-confidence, conflict resolution, increased socialisation and wellbeing, as well as improved critical reasoning skills”, she added

Dr Laura D’Olimpio said: “Australia is extremely well positioned to include philosophy and ethics in the National Curriculum in order to meet the General Capabilities of ‘Critical and Creative Thinking’, and ‘Ethical Understanding’.”

“The study of philosophy and ethics better equips people for political and ethical life. It supports focused discussion of ethical issues that are not otherwise explicitly addressed across the curriculum, and plays a pivotal role in developing children’s ethical understanding, higher-order thinking and discursive reasoning.”

The first day of the conference (July 9) was an ‘In Action’ day at Hale School where conference delegates witnessed expert practitioners facilitating philosophy sessions with primary and secondary school students. This was followed by a teachers’ professional development workshop. The next two days comprised presentations and workshops on philosophy and ethics in pre-tertiary educational spaces with themes focussed on moral education, teacher training, and the development of students’ metacognitive thinking skills.


Media Contact - Beth Kennedy : +61 8 9433 0764 | 0447 038 958 beth.kennedy@nd.edu.au.