Philosophy in New Zealand schools : is it possible?
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Ever since Socrates walked the agora of classical Athens, philosophy has involved thinking skills. Philosophy was a core part of education until the industrial revolution shifted the educational context towards specific skills/knowledge.
Although the current secondary curriculum in New Zealand constantly refers to building critical thinking skills, it is narrowly channelling curiosity due to its orientation to content and outcomes. International recognition of the educational benefits of philosophy started principally in select United States primary classrooms in the 1970s. Philosophy has since spread into many secondary school curricula, with particular success in Ontario and Australia.
There has been limited research in New Zealand in this area, and no equivalent call for or against a specific development of philosophy in the curriculum. International literature and educational research into philosophy in the classroom complement literature reviews and comparative studies, all grounded within an historical framework. A case study of Hagley Community College demonstrates the successful introduction of philosophy, while a consideration of psychological research indicates that it can support or oppose philosophy.
Local research, based on ideas and opinions of students, teachers and lecturers, adds to the understanding of the support and challenges within the New Zealand educational environment. Questionnaire-based exploratory studies give a range of results that show student support for thinking skills and provide a range of responses that should both concern and encourage curriculum developers.
Analysis of the historical and contemporary educational frameworks leads to the conclusion that philosophy has a viable role within New Zealand schools, and that there is extensive support for philosophy. As there are means to address practical concerns and there is a current opportunity to influence the content of the curriculum, this thesis recommends that supplementary research regarding the introduction of philosophy to New Zealand High schools be undertaken.