September 17, 2021

The Editor Speaks: New “national science education strategy”. But what about “Philosophy”?

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Science to come to the forefront for all Cayman Islands government schools.

This was announced yesterday (10) by Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Minister for Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture, and Lands (EYSAL).

She said, “Science is a fundamental subject for all. With science being a core subject along with English and mathematics, it has an important bearing on our everyday lives, Science plays a key role in the development of inquiry, collaboration, reasoning, and critical thinking skills – things that are important in all the subject areas I am responsible for.”

Cetonya Cacho, Acting Chief Officer for EYSAL, said, “The Cayman Islands poses unique scientific challenges that can be more effectively resolved with an understanding of the Caymanian context. It is important that the country unite to cultivate a scientific mindset and increase the pathways available for students wishing to pursue a scientific field of study, in order to ensure the country’s advancement and sustainability.”

Stephen Ta’Bois, STEM Specialist with the Ministry of Education is in full agreement saying, “The strategy is easily accessible for all, and everyone is encouraged to read it and incorporate the applicable parts into their everyday lives.”

The usual government gobble-de-gook was included in the press release:

The goals of the strategy are to ensure all students have access to high-quality science that includes scientific inquiry-based skills as well as subject knowledge; enhance the quality of science-related teaching and learning through innovative school leadership and teaching capacity; and improve the skills, engagement, and participation of students by developing science-related opportunities, through partnerships with tertiary institutions, businesses, industries, and charities that inspire students to connect with scientific careers.

See yesterday;’ iNews Cayman story “Cayman Islands New Science Education Strategy 2018-2023” at: http://www.ieyenews.com/wordpress/cayman-islands-new-science-education-strategy-2018-2023/
to read the full story.

I would have thought Maths and English were more important than Science and I am not alone in this thinking. However, Mohr Lone, thinks philosophy is the most important subject, and it is usually forgotten.

Not surprising for thinking this, Lone is a philosophy teacher, the founding director of the University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children, and the 20-year president of PLATO, a nonprofit focused on bringing philosophy to schools.

A recent study conducted among 3,000 fourth- and fifth-graders in 48 schools across England, for example, found that weekly, hour-long philosophy courses over one school year led to better literacy and math skills on follow-up tests two years later than with kids who took no philosophy courses. Neither group received any additional help in reading or math; the only difference was the introduction of philosophy.

Lone isn’t surprised when she hears these collateral effects. Year after year, teachers gush that her philosophy courses teach kids skills they can apply in other classrooms. The child who learns to reason through a philosophical argument can better tease apart math problems, just as perspective-taking enriches a lesson about slavery in the 1800s.

Kids also get a master class in character-building. Philosophical inquiry teaches kids patience, listening skills, respect for others’ opinions, and, perhaps above all, grit.

SOURCE: https://www.businessinsider.com/philosophy-most-valuable-school-subject-2016-8

I am not knocking the science initiative I am just suggesting a subject I had not realised was so beneficial to everything in our lives. Philosophy stimulates thought.

“Maybe I can’t know that I am not just the mind of a computer or living in a cave and seeing only shadows. But what I can know is that if I’m thinking about what I can know, I can be sure that at least there is me thinking, even if that’s all I can know about myself or anything else.”

That quote was from a ten year old pupil at Lone’s school.

Beyond helping kids understand themselves, philosophy also helps kids understand each other.

Final word from Lone: ”Philosophy in many ways underpins all the subjects. It’s sort of the original subject.”

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