A Winning Philosophy; Young Philosophers: Alice Williams, Left, and Olivia Campbell at Craigholme's Philosophy Club

Article excerpt

Byline: Steven Henry

AT the age of seven, most children are still learning the basics ofreading, writing and arithmetic. But at one girls' school, pupils are alreadystudying a subject that would cause most adults to scratch their heads inbewilderment.

Young members of one lunchtime Philosophy Club ponder such questions as 'Canflowers be happy?', 'What is real?' and 'What is beauty?' The idea is toencourage youngsters to speak their minds and not to be wary of airing theiropinions.

Teacher Lindsay Jack, who runs the club at Craigholme School in Pollokshields,Glasgow, said: 'The aim is to make it as much fun as possible while giving thegirls the opportunity to explore their thoughts on a wide variety of issues.

'The purpose of introducing 'The purpose of introducing philosophy to pupils ata young age is to encourage them to say what they think and not be afraid toput forward their point of view.

'It encourages children to think in a lateral way rather than what theyperceive the correct answer to be.

'This can lead to interesting discussions where different viewpoints might bebrought up. This way of thinking broadens their horizon of thought and canimpact on all areas of the curriculum.' Despite the rather deep nature of thesubject, the emphasis at the 500-pupil independent school, which teaches girlsaged between five and 18, is on the pupils enjoying themselves. There is nowritten work but there is plenty of discussion and interaction.

Miss Jack said: 'For me, the best part of the club is seeing the girls learningand laughing together.' Classes begin with pupils reading aloud or acting out aphilosophical story.

The tales depict fictional children discovering and exploring philosophicalissues and applying their reasoning to real-life situations.

The girls debate issues and their discussions may lead to the production ofleaflets, works of art or a even a short play.

Other examples of questions asked include 'What does a brain do?' and 'What istotal happiness?' After debating the question of 'What is beauty?', the girlsdecided that although someone may look unattractive, they could be beautiful onthe inside - and vice versa. …