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Philosophy’s position in the NZ
Secondary School System
NZ Association For Philosophy Teachers
SocCon 2013
Thanks to The Woods Bequest
[email protected]
The Trifecta
1st Philosophy of Education
2nd Philosophy as a non-isolatable domain
underlying all Learning Areas
3rd Philosophy as a Social Science/Humanities
Revised NZ Curriculum (2007)
Ideological Visions
Confident, connected,
actively involved and
lifelong learners
Go forth to new heights in
achievement and labour
Knowledge and its
The problem of conceptual
Status of the neonate
Rights and responsibilities
Individual and societal needs
2nd: Refined NZ Curriculum
Philosophy as a trans-disciplinary non-isolable domain
Stephen E. Toulmin (1972) Human Understanding
Philosophy helps to imbue the public mind with a certain number of
philosophical and moral notions to be regarded as a minimum equipment, and
which are calculated to reinforce respect for human personality. UNESCO (1946)
UNESCO, Philosophy a School of Freedom, Paris, UNESCO Publishing 2007.
UNESCO, Teaching Philosophy in Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, UNESCO Publishing 2009
Intra-disciplinary Nature of Philosophy
• integrates and transcends other disciplines - enhances
cognitive efficiency
• Interdependent structuring of discussion for young
people whose existential relationships to the self and to
others are in constant flux – cultivates reasonableness
• establishes a space within a school context where
‘broadening the horizons of reason’ to the limits of
thought and understanding can be a regular part of the
curriculum; extreme indoor education – enables rational
• allows a non-sectarian inquiry and exploration of ethics
without social control or indoctrination. Students
examine a number of perspectives and develop skills to
navigate moral life – develops values
Scientific speculation is a philosophical activity and as such
precedes theory and practice. Similarly for all other disciplines.
Student Essay Example: Quantum Physics
How to think about Quantum Wave-Function Collapse
Quantum Physics remains an area of intense speculation for
physicists, because of the uncertainty of how a quantum element
in a superposition (in two states at once) will ‘collapse’ into being
in only one state when measured. This has resulted in some
strange postulations of how the universe works when the quantum
interact with the macroscopic world. In this essay, I will evaluate
three of the main hypotheses that attempt to explain the collapse
of the superposition using the ‘SEARCH’ formula. The ‘SEARCH’
formula is a method used to evaluate evidence supporting
multiple hypotheses and determine which is the most probable.
The SEARCH formula consists of four main steps:
NB: also illustrates how the Humanities can be essential for STEM
A rigorous humanities subject
"We're hiring a living breathing person, not a
qualification. Someone who is thinking about
who and what they are, why they are justifying
taking up space on earth - we're hiring
people's values and attitudes. If I found a [job]
applicant with philosophy skills I would grab
Kim Campbell, Chief Executive
EMA - Employers and Manufacturers Association
(October, 2012)
Learning Objectives – Curriculum Guide
Level 6
Level 7
Level 8
1.1 Identify and describe
philosophical ideas
2.1 Describe and explain
philosophical ideas
3.1 Analyse and compare
philosophical ideas
1.2 Identify and describe
reasoned arguments
2.1 Develop reasoned
3.1 Analyse and evaluate
reasoned arguments
1.3 Identify and describe
ideas in philosophical
2.3 Develop and explain
ideas in philosophical
3.3 Analyse and evaluate
ideas in philosophical
1.4 Identify and describe
how philosophical inquiry
can be applied to a range
of issues
2.4 Describe and explain
how philosophical inquiry
can be applied to a range
of issues
3.4 Analyse and evaluate
how philosophical inquiry
can be applied to a range
of issues
Why study philosophy?
Seek wisdom and insight
Make ethical decisions
Think critically
Argue logically
Build personal confidence
Predicting Patterns in Nature
Each group carries out an experiment on Mother
Nature by trying to predict the next card in the
As Mother Nature knows and operates the same
pattern, she will give feedback on the success or
failure of each experiment.
Each group continues predicting until an
experiment fails, and then the next group takes
At any time a group can put forward an hypothesis
to describe the pattern of nature. If incorrect, that
team is out of the game; if correct, the Nobel prize.
Testing Hypotheses
Hypothesis 1
• Alternate colours (red, black, red, black)
Hypothesis 2
• Number cards alternating with face cards
Hypothesis 3
• Alternate suits (diamond, club, diamond, club)
Hypothesis 4 –Mother Nature’s Choice
• Alternate lower and higher cards (low, high, low,
Conformation Bias, Falsification
Ben Goldacre. Battling Bad Science, TED Talks
Thank You