Teaching children to respect all opinions can be problematic

Unthinkable: A ‘questioning mindset’ is needed rather than an attitude of ‘anything goes’

The best way of teaching philosophy is to present children ‘with a stimulus or a question’ rather than a history lesson, says Worley. Photograph: Jens Buettner/AP

The best way of teaching philosophy is to present children ‘with a stimulus or a question’ rather than a history lesson, says Worley. Photograph: Jens Buettner/AP

The teaching of philosophy may once have been strictly withheld from students until they had entered college – and developed suitably introspective and grungy appearances – but no more thanks to advocates and campaigners for philosophy in schools.

The number of secondary schools offering the junior cycle short course in philosophy has risen to 27 by the latest Department of Education count, up from 17 in 2019. The subject is also getting a toehold at primary level, with interest buoyed by the Irish Young Philosopher Awards – now in its fourth year – and the backing of such influencers as President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina.

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