Going down under for blue sky thinking

SUFFOLK teachers have been flown out to Australia for philosophy lessons as part of a pioneering attempt to give children a better education, it emerged today.

SUFFOLK teachers have been flown out to Australia for philosophy lessons as part of a pioneering attempt to give children a better education, it emerged today.

A total of £15,000 has been set aside to fund the project which has seen a "cutting edge" programme, devised by an Australian professor, brought in to a number of schools across the county over the past two years.

Suffolk is leading the way in bringing philosophy into schools - a move which is said to help children become better, more effective thinkers and develop socially as well as intellectually.

As well as visiting Australia, teachers have taken on-line courses to help change their approach to teaching.


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This week around 14 teachers spent half-term studying philosophy at Handford Hall Primary School, in Gatacre Road, Ipswich.

Headteacher at the school Jon Trotter said the scheme is already having a beneficial impact, with children's questioning skills developing and understanding of topics improving.

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“We are looking for ways in which to help children to become more effective thinkers and deal with life issues.

“Evidence built on over the last few years shows children's IQs are higher than those that have never done it.

“The skills developed in philosophy last them a life time - they are not going to go away.”

Mr Trotter said a typical philosophy lesson for children could involve reading a storybook and then beginning a discussion about it such as how the pupils know whether an animal in the book exists.

The discussion can then move on to broader discussions encompassing basic philosophy.

The thought behind the idea is that children become more inquisitive about subjects and interested in understanding them rather than learning them parrot-fashion.

Mr Trotter said: “Children will now come to a maths problem and think 'what does it mean?' and they don't rush into it.

“It is about creating an environment where children's views are respected and the questions they ask are being listened to.”

The £15,000 being spent on the project was raised from a conference arranged on philosophy in education held in Suffolk, the funding for which came from a county council pot.

n. Would you like philosophy lessons to be rolled out at schools across the county? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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