It was once described as "a route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing", yet the popularity of philosophy in Scottish schools has seen a dramatic upturn in the past five years. The number of pupils studying the subject of thought has risen by more than 41% [i.e. 300 students]...
"Interest in the subject in this country is certainly growing. Philosophy teaches a range of transferable skills in critical and analytical thinking and we are finding a great deal of enthusiasm in both teachers and students," [Dr. Lisa Jones] said.
Though I'm less encouraged by the reader responses:
You don't need Maths or Science to do it, there are no wrong answers so everyone passes, newspapers ask you for you opinion on something you know nothing about, and you get called an "expert". Two words - "Dumb" and "Dumber".
Waste of time - what use is this worthless subject in today's world?
The hard working taxpayer is footing the bill for this rubbish. We see the same at some universities eg media studies. Every brain dead student wants a qualification, even if the subject is useless.
Great thing this philosophy --no right or wrong answers so your [sic] always right by default!
*sigh* I really wish people would get over the silly misconception that philosophy is 'all just a matter of opinion'. It would also be nice if they recognized the educational value of reasoning skills (and that there are issues that warrant rational reflection -- yes, even outside of math and science).
I guess much depends on how it's taught, though. It isn't difficult to imagine a class labelled 'philosophy' that instead contains mere fluff (or, perhaps even more likely, mere history by rote). The article notes that "Because there [are] currently no secondary teaching certificates for philosophy as a specialist subject, some schools are struggling to cope with the new found demand." Might ignorant teachers do more harm than good? Would online training help?
The situation has prompted St Andrews University to offer a new online course for teachers involving elements of philosophy such as ethical issues, reasoning and knowledge, mind and reality.
What do you think is the best way to bring philosophy into schools? (Another possibility, which I'm especially interested in, is for volunteers from academia - grad students and such - to lead informal / extra-curricular tutorial sessions.)
P.S. UNESCO has released a book-length study: Philosophy: A School of Freedom. Teaching philosophy and learning to philosophize: Status and prospects [PDF]. The buzzwords in the description ("innovative publication" - *shudder*) put me off, but I imagine the contents could be of interest nonetheless. If anyone can bear to check, do let me know what you think of it.