"Are there any right or wrong answers in teaching philosophy": ethics, epistemology, and philosophy in the classroom

Tait, Gordon, O'Farrell, Clare D., Davey Chesters, Sarah, Brownlee, Joanne M., Spooner-Lane, Rebecca S., & Curtis, Elizabeth M. (2012) "Are there any right or wrong answers in teaching philosophy": ethics, epistemology, and philosophy in the classroom. Teaching Philosophy, 35(4), pp. 367-382.

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Abstract

This article assesses undergraduate teaching students’ assertion that there are no right and wrong answers in teaching philosophy. When asked questions about their experiences of philosophy in the classroom for primary children, their unanimous declaration that teaching philosophy has ‘no right and wrong answers’ is critically examined across the three sub-disciplinary areas to which they were generally referring, namely, pedagogy, ethics, and epistemology. From a pedagogical point of view, it is argued that some teaching approaches may indeed be more effective than others, and some pupils’ opinions less defensible, but pedagogically, in terms of managing the power relations in the classroom, it is counter-productive to continually insist on notions of truth and falsity at every point. From an ethical point of view, it is contended that anti-realist approaches to meta-ethics may represent a viable intellectual position, but from the point of view of normative ethics, notions of right and wrong still retain significant currency. From an epistemological point of view, it is argued using Karl Poppers’ work that while it may be difficult to determine what constitutes a right answer, determining a wrong one is far more straightforward. In conclusion, it is clear that prospective teachers engaging in philosophy in the classroom, and also future teachers in general, require a far more nuanced philosophical understanding of the notions of right and wrong and truth and falsity. In view of this situation, it we wish to promote the effective teaching of philosophical thinking to children, or produce educators who can understand the conceptual limits of the claims they make and their very real and often serious practical and social consequences, it is recommended that philosophy be reinstated to a fundamental, foundational place within the pre-service teaching curriculum.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 55564
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: teaching philosophy
ISSN: 0145-5788
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Past > Schools > School of Cultural & Language Studies in Education
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood & Inclusive Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Philosophy Documentation Center
Deposited On: 12 Dec 2012 03:15
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2013 15:22

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