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Philosophy at GCSE level

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by musova, Jan 11, 2016.

  1. musova

    musova New commenter

    Does anyone know if any Board does Philosophy at GCSE level?
  2. jerseyperson

    jerseyperson New commenter

    yep- they don't!
  3. rdigsworth

    rdigsworth New commenter

    Be great if they did! But the best bet is going for the units of an RE syllabus that are focussed on Philosophy. I ran a GCSE course last year made up of entirely philosophical and ethical modules and it was a joy to teach. There is A-Level Philosophy, but it ranks far below A Level RS in terms of pupils taking it (something like 5,000 vs 23,000) and not many resources.
  4. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Philosophy touches the curriculum at various points but is most evident in RE. To teach philosophy - not a discrete subject - as a discrete GCSE would be like teaching about ink instead of English or about training shoes instead of PE. You'd end up with pointless lessons filled with contrived thought experiments biased to the teacher's philosophical presuppositions and students turning out less savvy at the end of two years than they'd started.
    Scintillant likes this.
  5. rdigsworth

    rdigsworth New commenter

    I wholeheartedly disagree - I did a Philosophy degree at Durham and it wasn't pointless, filled with contrived thought experiments biased to the lecturers' philosophical presuppositions. We certainly didn't turn out less savvy. This approach could easily be taken at GCSE - with a same focus on philosophical issues and what philosophers have said about them.
  6. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Good for you, but it's not very savvy to defend your undergraduate degree when I'm not attacking it but talking about GCSEs. They're very different beasts and the students are, it is to be hoped, very different people.

    As with maths, people have been doing philosophy for a long time and it's successful transmission, like maths, requires significant sequential work on the part of students which cannot be reduced to tripartite lessons. Not for nothing is all this characterised as footnotes to Plato and children are neither linguistically nor emotionally equipped nor motivated to handle those radical ideas which necessarily precipitate whatever cosy fireside-&-crumpet aphorisms and anecdotes you envisage imparting, which brings me to teachers. For various reasons we could neither recruit nor retain those people best equipped to draw children from raw intuition to sober analysis. No, what will happen is warmed-over P4C, itself a parody, delivered by SLT-ridden, underpaid, overworked cover supervisors and TAs churning out students who, unable to consider the validity of their own spurious SEN statements, believe that The Matrix is profound.
  7. rdigsworth

    rdigsworth New commenter

    I'm defending the discipline of Philosophy, which should not be limited to those of a certain age. I find your attitude quite elitist, if I'm being honest. Keep on with your pessimistic outlook, if it works for you.
    VeronicAmb likes this.
  8. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    I'm not attacking the discipline of philosophy but criticising your presumption that children are the intellectual peers of adults and that a GCSE in it would be at all beneficial.

    I would hope that you are always honest but if you're calling me elitist for asserting that children are less intelligent and educated than most adults - which is the basis of my position here - then yes, I'm elitist, although not in the pejorative sense you intended.

    Pessimism, as you should know, is a perfectly respectable philosophical stance although in this I'm a pragmatist.
  9. Lloydo82

    Lloydo82 New commenter

    The Matrix is quite profound; the issue of whether what we perceive is a reflection of the way the world really is, the old brain in a vat issue which has troubled numerous philosophers and the issue of freedom and determinism to name a few. While the Matrix is not original I think it is unfair to suggest that it is not profound.

    A GCSE would be clearly challenging as I'm not sure many children are raised to think in a particularly philosophical way (do we need to think philosophically in order to get a job and save up for the next iphone or pay off your DFS sofa?) but that's not to say we can't try. To be fair students are not raised to think mathematically or scientifically...this is one of the points of education, to get students thinking in new ways. I've done a few tater lessons with my Year 11 and Year 9 based on the AQA Philosophy A-level and they loved it...our students are very able though.
  10. venny414

    venny414 New commenter

    Wow. A criticism of presupposition based on a presupposition. Perhaps you would benefit from some Philosophy lessons yourself.
  11. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    No, based upon experience. See P4C.
  12. armandine2

    armandine2 Established commenter

  13. venny414

    venny414 New commenter

    Ah yes, because every single Philosophy type lesson at GCSE level is based on P4C.

    Philosophy is accessible to everyone of all ages and abilities. It isn't confined to the works of Plato and Descartes - it's everywhere. Philosophy is the study of wisdom. The appreciation of knowledge that isn't just given to you out of a textbook. The other day my four year old was trying to explain to me what happens after we die and she did a pretty good job in my opinion. *That's* philosophy.

    I disagree entirely with your suggestion that children aren't emotionally or linguistically equipped to handle these 'radical' ideas. Children are so much more than the labels *you* put on them. What chance do they have if people like you keep putting the blockers on them at every opportunity. As far as I'm concerned children represent the best of humanity. Every single one of them has so much untapped potential that they deserve to have nourished.
  14. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    If you honestly think that your four year-old is producing anything that can be classed as wisdom and which is on par with what we value from a study of the history of formal ideas then there's no need for a GCSE in Philosophy.

    Regarding labels and children: I could label a four year-old child a literate philosopher but she's still going to be better at and prefer playing with finger paints than poring over the Tractatus. I get that you think the children are our future and all that thing but I'm not going to get into a futile argument over which of us has more positive regard for children. If children were the intellectual or emotional equals of adults then we wouldn't send them to school. They aren't, this is fact.
  15. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    I tend to think that this falls into the realms of science.
  16. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    I once taught some Plato to a supposedly unteachable group of Year 10s. They did get a lot from it. Two of them went on to study it at college. Would they have done so otherwise? Would they have gone to college otherwise? I don't know.
  17. SteveWoodhouse

    SteveWoodhouse Occasional commenter

    I teach a little philosophy - the students love it.

    It's really strange to think it's valid to teach situation ethics, but not utilitarianism.

    In addition, I think a sub-set of philosophy is logic. I think some sort of logic teaching should be a part of the curriculum from a very young age - nothing else that is taught is completely valid without it.

    Yes, I use thought experiments. You know what? The students love them.

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