Why should philosophy matter to young people today?

"The students seem more willing to listen to ideas that might jar with their own. They are more ready to consider a point of view and change their mind based on reason."
Introductory Course Graduate, 2020

This is an actual question that is posed to Year 10 students during Semester 1, and forms part of the discussion in Lesson 14.

For most people there’s an instant answer. But is this a gut instinct or a reasoned judgement?

By pondering prevailing beliefs, exploring possible alternatives and giving and accepting reasons, students learn to be reflective, sensitive to meaning, divergent and reasonable.

Ideas aren’t personal – they can change, and exploring an idea that is different to one you’ve held tightly, is a valuable learning experience.

What is necessary for a good life?

Year 8, Term 3, Lesson 3

Is good health a necessity or simply desirable for a good life?

Can you think of someone who is unhealthy, yet had a good life?

Is it ever okay to steal?

Year 7, Term 2, Lesson 3

What if you stole something that was unwanted? What if stealing something could save a life?

At what point could stealing become acceptable?

What is art?

Year 8, Term 4, Lesson 2

If something is hanging in a gallery, does that make it art?

Who decides what is art? If one person thinks it is art and someone else doesn't, who is right?

Philosophical Inquiry Teacher Training equips teachers with the skills to develop their students’ abilities to think and develop the skill of good reasoning… but why is this important?

Fake news, metadata, social media echo chambers, influencers – the amount of data available to all of us is increasing rapidly and we are saturated with information and misinformation. But … who is right and who is wrong? Who decides right and wrong? Is fake news fake if someone believes it to be true? How do we look at other people’s point of view when we object strongly to it?

Philosophy is so much more than an esoteric ideology, represented by an old guy resting his chin on his closed fist, contemplating the world and life. Philosophical inquiry matters to all of us, especially young people.

It teaches us to question and understand the really big ideas that are important to the way we live.

The need to explore these important ideas together; collaboratively, respectfully, with a willingness to try and understand the point of view of others; helps us to grow, evolve and, at times, possibly change our own minds and thinking.

What do students say about Philosophical Inquiry?

“Philosophical Inquiry is life changing … I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it.” Year 9 student

“PI helps me because I can think of how different people view the situation, and how they would feel. I use this to make a better judgement.” Year 8 student

“Philosophy Inquiry has taught me to be a curious learner.” Year 9 student

“It has helped me to question my own values and beliefs and reshape who I am as a person.” Year 10 student

“It’s like exercise for my brain!” Year 9 student

“The things I learn in Philosophical Inquiry help me in my life because it teaches me to think about issues and come up with more than one alternative option. Because of PI ‘there is only one way’ doesn’t mean much anymore and ‘back-up plan’ is now a more meaningful phrase.” Year 7 student

“The subject of Philosophy and Reason features engaging content, such as interesting thought experiments and philosophical exercises. It’s actually pretty sick!” Year 11 student

What do teachers say about Philosophical Inquiry?

Over 500 teachers have completed the Philosophical Inquiry Introductory Course and teachers have commented that the behaviour required in the PI classroom has now become evident in other subjects where it wasn’t previously. ‘Students listen carefully until the speaker is finished, are respectful of and courteous towards one another, and build on other’s ideas’.

“Philosophical Inquiry teaches students to be more open and accepting of different perspectives, which causes them to reflect on and amend their own views.” PI Teacher

“Students are becoming more adept at recognising fallacies in thinking and lack of logic in arguments. Their reasoning skills are constantly challenged by the curly questions offered in PI and they can better identify assumptions and recognise good reasoning. PI challenges students to go deeper and to avoid superficialities, which they transfer to their thinking in ohter areas of the curriculum.” Head of Teaching

“It has changed the way I engage with students, as exploring the content with them has created more opportunities to develop relationships and get to know different them on a deeper level.” PI Teacher

“It has changed the way I engage with students, as exploring the content with them has created more opportunities to develop relationships and get to know different them on a deeper level.” PI Teacher

“PI is a collaborative subject that encourages students to work together. It teaches fundamental skills in relation to collaborative learning, including the ability to listen atttentively and add constructively to a group.” Humanities Teacher

“I think students are more respectful of one another when contributing to class discussion. They are prepared to listen to a response before jumping in.” Senior English Teacher

"The Philosophy Matters curriculum is an outstanding achievement. It is not only the first Australian-based curriculum to systematically cover the first four secondary years, but a world leader in its field."
Dr Philip Cam
Adjunct Associate Professor at UNSW

A comprehensive developmental curriculum

A curriculum guide for implementing Philosophical Inquiry in Years 7-10

Philosophical Inquiry teacher training workshops

Enabling teachers to begin or extend their Philosophical inquiry journey with their students.

Student workshops

Want to see YOUR students in action? Student workshops are tailored to meet the needs of your students and school (Prep to 12).

Building flexible independent thinkers

How Philosophical Inquiry can be taught in all schools.