Teaching Philosophy to Students; Necessities, Prerequisites and International Experiences

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 department of education. university of kashan

2 university of kashan

Abstract

In the world brimming with rapid changes and developments of the 21st century and mass of various data and information, teaching philosophy to students in the meaning of teaching the correct ways of thinking, obtaining information, reasoning as well as critical and evaluative thinking would be deemed as a universal necessity and the basic responsibility of all educational systems of the various countries. The reason lies behind the fact that teaching philosophy to learners, on the one hand, lays the grounds for development of students’ intellectual and cognitive power, and on other hand, facilitates settling the personal and social problems by its manifestation in real and practical life. Having recognized the importance of teaching philosophy to students, this paper aims to highlight the crucial role and responsibility of educational system in this realm, and accordingly, attempts to prepare the preliminaries for legalization of teaching philosophy and including it in the curricula of schools and educational centers.

Keywords

Main Subjects


Article Title [فارسی]

آموزش فلسفه به دانش آموزان؛ ضرورت ها، پیش نیازها و تجارب بین المللی

Authors [فارسی]

  • محمد امینی 1
  • علی یزدخواستی 2
1 گروه علوم تربیتی ، دانشگاه کاشان
2 گروه علوم تربیتی ، دانشگاه کاشان
Abstract [فارسی]

در جهان سرشار از تغییرات و پیشرفت های شتابان قرن بیست و یکم و انبوه داده ها و اطلاعات متنوع، آموزش فلسفه به دانش آموزان به معنای یاددهی شیوه های درست اندیشیدن،جمع آوری اطلاعات ، استدلال و تفکر ناقدانه و مبتنی بر ارزشیابی می تواند یکی از مهم ترین اولویت های نظام های آموزشی باشد. چرا که آموزش فلسفه به فراگیران از یک سو زمینه های لازم را برای رشد قوای فکری و شناختی آنان فراهم می سازد و از سوی دیگر حضور فلسفه در زندگی واقعی و عملی افراد و کاربرد آن در حل مسایل فردی و اجتماعی را امکان پذیر می سازد. نویسندگان مقاله حاضر با درک اهمیت و ضرورت آموزش فلسفه به دانش آموزان کوشیده اند تا کارکرد و مسئولیت نظام آموزشی را در این حوزه مورد توجه و تاکید قرار دهند تا از این طریق ، زمینه مناسب برای مشروعیت بخشی این آموزش ها در قالب برنامه های درسی مدارس فراهم گردد.

Keywords [فارسی]

  • فلسفه
  • آموزش فلسفه
  • دانش آموزان
  • برنامه درسی
  • تجارب بین المللی

Introduction

Doubtless, development of intellectual capabilities as well as mental and cognitive processes of students in various educational grades are considered as one of the most important objectives and orientations of schools and educational centers in different countries. In other words, education in its common meaning implies the rationality, namely the development of thought. That is perhaps why the most common application of education is deemed to be rationality or development of the intellectual power (Akbari & Masoudi, 2014). In other words, “nowadays within the complex world, thinking skills are required to be learnt in order to logically respond to challenges” (Farmahini Farahani, Mirzamohammadi & Kharestani, 2008, p. 46).

Necessities of Attention to the Teaching Philosophy

Despite the emphasis on the objectives concerning the learners’ intellectual and perceptual development, the existing facts indicate the educational systems’ failure in this regard. It can be due to the fact that most of the schools’ attention has been focused on transferring information and scientific facts rather than training intellectual and creative people (Shabani, 2003) and they have also failed to “effectively promote the students’ thinking and analytical ability as well as correct judgment” (Akrami, Ghamrani, & Aghalar,  2015, p. 73). As Smith and Hullfish (1961) argue, school’s curriculums have failed to teach the correct method of reflective and logical thinking to learners (Marashi, Haghighi, Banaei Mobaraki, & Bashlideh, 2007) as these curriculums devoted most of their attention to memory growth rather than problem-solving education, accordingly, have deprived the students of enjoying using their sense of curiosity, questioning, problem solving, discovering, and considering the transfer of mass of information (Mehrmohammadi, 2000).

 Weakness and inefficiency of the educational systems in training students with independent, critical, and analytical thinking ability have also of been underscored by John Dewey (1938); as he argues that traditional educational systems have put a set of information and results of the solved problems at the learners’ disposal rather than teaching them the processes of thinking, researching, and discovering (Naji, 2004). Regarding the traditional and inflexible schools, Dewey also notes that students must be receptive and have indisputable and unquestioning obedience to teachers. On the other hand, teachers and books are considered as the means by which concepts are being transferred to the learners. Accordingly, the basis of this kind of education is to impose the knowledge and information of the elderly to those who are becoming mature (Shariatmadari, 2003).

Needless to say, such a condition and pattern of the educational system could never be in conformity with the current complexities and realities of the human societies in the twenty-first century, and significantly, does not convey a positive impression of the educational centers’ efficiency and effectiveness. In other words, nowadays we are in an age which science has achieved significant growth; therefore, information and knowledge should not be transferred to the students solely through the curriculums. The reason being that changes and revisions which are being made to the scientific findings may even misrepresent the students’ education and going to school as a fruitless and ineffectual institution and activity (Maleki, 2009). Given the above facts, it is nowadays emphasized that schools should concentrate their attention on training intellectual, researcher, and questioner students so that they can logically address the problems in the modern and complicated world of today. 

Taking the above point of view into consideration, it follows that the educational scope of teaching philosophy is one of the instruments and platforms, which can be employed to develop the students’ intellectual and perceptual power and to stimulate their thinking and mental processes, and correspondingly, to smooth the way of training critic and creative learners within the educational systems. It could be reasonably argued that if “the foundation of the students’ intellectual skills is laid within the early years of life in order that they could broad-mindedly contemplate their future without any bias and egocentrism (Mahroozadeh & Ramezanpour, 2011, p. 58); in that way, teaching philosophy to learners could lay the grounds for developing the aforementioned skills and features in the students. In fact, teaching philosophy to students with the aim of improving and enhancing their reasoning, judgment, and discrimination power has been the most significant step taken to apply the philosophy in education during recent decades (Hossieni & Hossieni, 2011).

Rise of critical thinking movement has led to promotion of postmodernist thoughts, teaching problem-solving, creative thinking, and evaluation skills by the education systems. Meanwhile, a new pattern of rational education, which is dependent upon training logical thinking and training freethinkers, has been emerged in theoretical and practical realms of education (Jahani, 2006). From this perspective, teaching philosophy to students is among the curriculums, which provide the groundwork for children and adolescents to form their own complex thoughts and enhance their reasoning power, critical, and creative thinking as well as philanthropy. 

Highlighting the necessity of training thinking skills to students using the successful pattern of teaching philosophy in more than fifty countries around the world, Fisher (2005) argues that this method leads to positive consequences for students as it puts emphasis on conscious discussion with their peers. Elsewhere, he has pointed out that this method is considered as one of the most common methods of thinking development which is applied in many countries. According to Ghaedi (2003), teaching philosophy to students “serves to materialize the notion of philosophizing in the meaning of ways of thinking” (p. 12). The purpose is to help children to learn how to think for themselves. On the other hand, in addition to positive cognitive and perceptual results of teaching philosophy to learners, other remarkable outcomes of this field such as learners’ social development, learning democratic decision-making processes, students’ regular participation (Haynes, 2002) as well as paying attention to fundamental issues and questions about life, including contemplating the nature of law, truth, goodness, justice, death, friendship, etc. (Saberi Najaf Abadi, 2011) are of special interest to various educational experts.

 Historically, the program of teaching philosophy to students is mostly originated from the Socrates’ thoughts and opinions; a philosopher who proposes philosophy in its original meaning (i.e., being interested in knowledge and thinking correctly) (Ghaedi, 2003). Matthew Lipman, known as one of the prominent theorists in the realm of teaching philosophy to students, refers to the Socratic discussion method as an ideal solution to answer the fundamental questions about life, and accordingly, introduces it as the main infrastructure of teaching philosophy to learners. Having accepted and adopted the Socrates’ views on philosophizing and correcting way of thinking, Lipman (1988) indeed attempts to prevent the philosophy from being limited solely to interpreting the philosophers’ viewpoints. Lipman argues that philosophy is not an educational subject or field, but rather is a living method for Socrates. What Socrates has set as the pattern for us is not philosophical knowledge or practical philosophy, but rather is philosophical practice He stimulates us to accept the fact that philosophy is conduct and practice. (Lipman, 1988).

 Confirming this fact, Haynes (2008) also believes that “the idea of teaching philosophy to children has significant correlation with the Socrates’ thoughts, method, and character” (p. 176). Socrates and his followers believed that knowing the ignorance will pave the way for obtaining wisdom. The role of a teacher is like a midwife as the teacher can elicit the truth by asking questions and can help the student to come up with ideas like a midwife who helps deliver a child” (Jabelameli Forooshani, Yousefi, Ghaedi, & Keshtiaray, 2015, p. 4). In addition to Socrates, the views of other philosophers have had significant role in clarification and establishing the theoretical foundations of the field of teaching philosophy.

Developing the methodological skepticism, Descartes underscores retesting the knowledge and thoughts as well as avoiding from making snap judgments and ridding ourselves of prejudice or prejudgment. In other words, Descartes emphasized on correct way of thinking, rational, and methodological contemplation, and avoiding adherence to others’ beliefs, which accordingly led to getting philosophy back on track and resting on firm foundations (Naqibzadeh, 1995, pp. 102-103). In his interpretation of philosophy, Kant who is another great philosopher states that I do not teach you philosophy; rather I teach how to think philosophically. You won’t learn the thoughts to repeat, rather you learn the way of thinking (Sheffield, 1996, p.168). In fact, Kant supports what he practices which is called philosophical practice; therefore, he has occupied a crucial role in developing the pattern of reflective thinking (Naji, 2004).

Moreover, Vygotsky (1978) a Russian psychologist, has stressed the necessity of teaching the reflective thinking methods to learners and has recommended not to only memorizing the materials and thoughts. He also points out the effect of social and cultural contexts upon the way of thinking and what is being thought about. Vygotsky argues that cognitive skills and the thinking pattern of a person is highly dependent upon his social activities, and his personal background would mainly predict his way of thinking (Saif, 2008). In addition to the aforementioned philosophers, we cannot overlook the significance of John Dewey’s views (1974) in providing the theoretical and cognitive foundations of teaching philosophy to students. This great philosopher and instructor has formulated his education theory on the basis of research and problem-solving which implies a kind of valid method of obtaining knowledge. Dewey’s support for the contextualized and specialized knowledge is consistent with assuming the role of researcher for a teacher in the classroom (Mehrmohammadi, 2000). Dewey says that “Children, like scientists, should perform research as a group, as discovery in research projects requires people’s collaboration with each other” (Naji, 2004, p. 96).

Apart from the abovementioned philosophers whose thoughts have been as the theoretical and cognitive foundations of teaching philosophy to students, it should be noted that implementing the idea of teaching philosophy to students in schools and educational centers has been mostly influenced by Matthew Lipman’s views and thoughts. It could be said that Lipman has supported the idea of teaching philosophy to students and has introduced it as an educational movement or pattern associated with development of learners’ mental processes and cognitive skills as well as their thinking, judgment, and reasoning power. In fact, Lipman argues that philosophy in the notion of philosophizing and thinking could be taught to students taking individual growth and differences into consideration. Around 1960s, Lipman offered a creative educational experience in the field of finding an alternative for memorization and providing students with trainings, which can meet their primary needs (Vansieleghem, 2006). This creative experience and curriculum, which is a clear example of application of philosophy in education, does not aim to “clarify the abstract philosophical issues and definitions for non-philosophers and to solve their problems, rather it helps students to think for themselves and settle their problems on their own (Lipman, 2003).

As an instructor of philosophy in Montclair State University, Lipman observed that students have serious weakness in reasoning, critical and creative judgment, and intellectual skills. Consequently, he concluded that schools’ inattention to this important field has been the main cause of this weakness, which is why he emphasizes on making revision in childhood educational styles in order to tackle this issue. He states that “I thought that the problem we have in the university does not seem soluble in that situation. As thinking method should be taught much earlier than the time thinking habits are acquired. To the extent which student obtains effective thinking and freethinking skills until the end of high school” (Lipman, 1981, p. 262). From this perspective, Lipman firmly argues that within the early years of school, provided that good condition exists regarding developmental considerations, students would be able to deal with different intellectual mechanisms, compare various data and evidence, propose and examine hypotheses, and investigate the relationship between various elements and phenomena.

Meanwhile, supporting the view of Vygotsky, this theorist maintains that “language is the primary instrument for thinking, and collaboration can develop children’s thinking in higher level. The program of teaching philosophy to children mainly aims at stimulating philosophical debate in the classroom by creating researcher communities” (Fisher, 2003, p. 27). Holding a comprehensive view on the purpose of teaching philosophy to students, Lipman suggests improvement of reasoning ability, development of creativity, critical thinking, ethical understanding, and citizenship, personal and interpersonal values and of ability to find meaning in experience as the main purposes of this program.

 The above purposes demonstrate that teaching philosophy to students can lead to various significant consequences, such as cognitive, mental, ethical, personal, social, artistic, and aesthetic consequences as well as development of learners’ creative and critical thinking and enhancing their capacity to explore meaning. Accordingly, it is emphasized that the field of teaching philosophy to students should not be like a null or excluded curriculum; rather it should be included in the schools’ curricula. Lipman suggest that “teaching philosophy should be included in the schools’ curricula as education can change children; however, it should be changed itself in order to fulfill this fact, and accordingly, it should place a high priority to thinking rather than knowledge” (Marashi, Rahiminasab, & Lasani, 2008, p. 10).

 Different Prerequisites for Teaching Philosophy

Needless to say that implementation of the pattern of teaching philosophy to students which is accompanied by desired changes in various aspects of their personality requires making primary arrangements and providing preliminaries. That is why it has been argued that teaching philosophy to students as the latest achievement of reflective paradigm includes several new or changed elements, such as community of inquiry or research circles, story textbooks and teachers in changed role (Naji, 2004). The idea of Community of inquiry or research circles was developed firstly by Pierce (1877) as the main components and elements of teaching philosophy to students (Ghaedi, 2004). In addition to encouraging collaboration and interaction among students, “community of inquiry has led to creation of sympathy and respect among them and has enhanced their listening ability. Moreover, community of inquiry could be an opportunity where learners can freely express their opinions and views” (Daniel & Auriac, 2011, p. 418).

In the pattern of teaching philosophy to students, the classroom, which is the main environment where the teaching-learning process takes place, has changed from its usual, traditional, and teacher-centered form to a small community of inquiry having features such as real friendship, collaboration and participation which provides the students with an opportunity to discuss and research various issues under the guidance of teacher. What distinguishes the community of inquiry from the other educational communities is the belief in joint inquiry. The community of inquiry can help students develop skills by which they can completely perform their role in a pluralist community. Community of inquiry boosts self-esteem and rational self-belief and enhances the ability to participate in rational debate” (Fisher, 2005, p. 84).

 Pointing out the significant features of community of inquiry or research circles such as “friendly and non-hostile contemplation and reflection, common understanding, improving the education level, development of culture and philosophical imagination, improving the ability to study, deeply comprehension of and enjoying texts through dialogue” (p. 94),  Lipman (2003) argues that in contrast to the traditional environment of classrooms where the teacher was the authority and an all-knowing person who already knows the answer to students’ questions, and accordingly, does not allow the learners to use mental process to find the answer, in the community of inquiry there is always questions and problems to look into due to the fact that a research atmosphere prevails in it and the individuals’ activity in this atmosphere is focused on problem-solving, discovering the truth, and exploring the meaning.

On the other hand, in addition to the community of inquiry, preparing and designing the story textbooks focusing on philosophical stories is another essential and primary requirement of teaching philosophy to students. Basically, choosing appropriate and relevant textbooks is crucially important in order to fulfill the various objectives of curricula. It should be acknowledged that “textbook is an instrument which is used by teacher to stimulate the students and to provide them with maximum knowledge and to enhance their comprehension and perception of an issue” (Fathivajarga, 2014, p. 310). Therefore, preparing and designing textbooks which can develop the learners’ understanding and skills of philosophizing and thinking is of tremendous importance.

From this perspective, philosophical stories are considered as one of natural stimuli, which are used for debate, examination, and problem-solving. Although other stimuli such as picture, video, painting, poem, and plays can be used in this regard, philosophical stories have higher importance due to the fact that they stimulate the learners’ interest, enthusiasm, and level of collaboration” (Hosseini & Hosseini, 2011, p. 155). Textbooks which have philosophical stories are authored in a manner which learners can read them with their particular interest and curiosity, and discuss their various topics. With respect to the great attraction and capacity of philosophical stories, Ann Margaret Sharp, who is Lipman’s scientific colleague and an expert in the field of teaching philosophy to students, suggests that “if the stories focus on issues or events which are interesting and exciting for children, they would enjoy reading those stories and will be encouraged to think and inquire. They use the stories to set the ground for discussion and raise their philosophical questions” (Sharp, 2004, p. 12). Moreover, these story texts could involve students in exploring the meaning, broaden and deepen their understanding, improve the learners’ thinking and reasoning skills, and enhance their self-confidence” (Safaei Moghadam, 1998, p. 168). Needless to say, the chosen philosophical stories should conform to the cultural and social context of each society as well as learners’ mental development requirements. Meeting these criteria significantly enhances the meaningfulness and effectiveness of these textbooks.

Another critical factor in implementing the program of teaching philosophy to students is the existence of teachers who, beyond their stereotypical and traditional roles (i.e. being sage on the stage and teaching lessons in classrooms), can take the role of facilitator and an active participant in the course of educational interactions and exploring the meaning. Doubtless the quality and capability of teachers clearly reflect the quality of the educational system in which they teach. Fulfilling any objective in education is “highly dependent upon its fulfillment in the teacher or manpower, as the teacher is regarded as the firm foundation of any educational system” (Mehrmohammadi, 2000, p. 155).

Many experts have maintained that “personality and behavior of the teacher impacts upon the performance and success of students. Teacher effectiveness is concerned with “a general sense with the way in which teachers operates in their classroom” (Westwood, 2012, p. 76). Accordingly, stressing the important position of teachers in the field of teaching philosophy to students, it should be mentioned that their professional role and responsibility would undergo considerable changes as well. In other words, “the teacher is no longer the transferor of information and absolute ruler of the classroom. It is not only students who are being questioned in the classroom, but also they can ask their teacher questions and criticize him. The teacher only serves “the role of facilitator and guides the students towards correct thinking and getting at the truths” (Naji, 2004, p. 114).

Moreover, the program of teaching philosophy to students requires teachers to be strong pedagogically and operate as a facilitator of education in the classroom. This program rejects the idea of regarding teacher as an expert. The teacher has the role of facilitator and guide during the students’ discussions in the classroom” (Hosseini & Hosseini, 2011, p. 156). However, it is widely supposed that the teacher, as the main executor of program of teaching philosophy to students, should have a series of features, including technical, methodological, and ethical qualifications in order to prepare a situation in the classroom, which facilitates the students’ collaboration in thinking processes, and accordingly, helps them to acquire the intended perceptional and intellectual skills and qualifications.

The Experiences of other Countries in Teaching Philosophy

 

Given the fundamental role and multiplicity of philosophy teaching, which promotes the development of students' intellectual capabilities and advanced mental skills, the education systems of different countries have introduced the field of philosophy education into their formal curriculum. Obviously, in this way, the practical and necessary platform for the development of these skills will be provided. Particularly in this context, the performance of advanced educational systems is significant. Below are some of these countries.

 

In the United States, a number of techniques related to teaching of philosophy to studentshave been applied at primary level. Of particular interest are the undergraduate and postgraduate classes on this field and a Philosophy at School course offered in the Department of Philosophy at the State University of New York (SUNY), in Plattsburgh. Games, pop videos, short stories and poems also form part of the course and give a real boost to exercises in thinking critically. Roemischer developed a course in teaching and literacy for graduate students, called Philosophy and Children’s Literature. Several articles about the course have appeared in the periodicals published by Montclair State University. Thomas Wattenberg, of the Department of Philosophy at Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts) also created and developed a website for teachers, parents, children, and others interested in philosophy and children’s literature.

 In the United Kingdom between 2,000 and 3,000 schools have some form of P4C on their curriculum. There is a vocal campaign aimed at making philosophy a basic and core subject matter at secondary level. One study in London showed that 66 percent of children who received a weekly philosophy class went up at least one grade in English compared with 42 per cent in the control classes (Humphreys, 2013).

In Africa, although practically no such learning to philosophize exists in the schools, it is nevertheless possible to find resource people who reflect on these themes in three African Universities: in Kenya (Department of Philosophy, Kenyatta University);in Nigeria (Institute of Ecumenical Education); as well as in South Africa (University of the Western Cape, Faculty of Education and the Centre for Cognitive and Career Education). These measures, scattered as they are, are contributing in their way to the reflection of education experts, who stress that “confrontation, through dialogue and exchanging arguments is one of the tools necessary to education in the 21st century. More than ever, the essential role of education seems to be to confer upon all human beings the freedom of thought, judgment, feeling and imagination that they need to make their talents blossom and also retain as much mastery of their destiny as possible (UNESCO, 2009, p.12).

 

Farmahini et al. (2008) found that in the French educational system, teaching philosophy could provide students with the essential tools to enhance thinking and skills of problem-solving and conceptualization. Hence, it should be provided to learners in the curriculum. A remarkable point in this approach is that philosophy should be created in the classroom. In addition, the teacher should surprise the children and analyze the nature of the events, so that students are surprised, because the surprise and astonishment is the beginning of philosophy. In Germany teaching philosophy is typically offered in the last two years of high school. Philosophy is also available in literature courses earlier in the secondary cycle. In some regions, it is offered as an “alternative subject” to religious studies. New teacher-training programs have sprung up to encourage philosophy at primary level (Humphreys, 2013).

Teaching Philosophy in Iranian Educational System

What is certain is that the teaching of philosophy as an independent curriculum does not exist in Iran's educational system and in its different levels and levels. Therefore, a particular textbook has not been designed or written for it. Of course, in recent years, attempts have been made to integrate and incorporate philosophical concepts into various textbooks, because the results of various studies have shown the positive effects of teaching philosophy to students. However, a look at some of the studies conducted in this area provides a picture of the current state of teaching philosophy to students in Iran's educational system. The findings of Marashi, Rahimi Nasab, and Lesani (2008) showed that the elementary schools in the sample did not have enough facilities for implementing theteaching philosophy to students. Therefore, it is important to pay serious attention to the correct implementation of the program for teaching philosophy to students, strengthening teachers' skills, and allocation of facilities. In their research, Hosseini and Hosseini (2011) emphasized that basic work should be done in the Iranian educational system for intellectual and reasoning development of students. In this way, one of the most effective tools is the use of philosophy teaching methods for students at different grades and levels. Therefore, it is necessary for the Iranian educational system to make predictions about the position of philosophical and intellectual education of the learners in the curricula and textbooks and to design a model corresponding to their culture and values in this field and to be implemented in classes and schools. Karimi (2005), based on the results of the Iranian students' performance in international tests of mathematics (TIMSS) and reading literacy (PIRLS) states that Iranian learners have less intellectual and process skills than the average world and therefore it is  important to pay attention to develop the cognitive and analytical capabilities of students through the use of textbooks and teaching methods. Referring to the weakness of philosophical education in Iran's educational centers, Mousavi (2009) argues that the main problem is that there is a deep gap between the goals of Islamic philosophy and what is practically done in schools of the country, which results in differences and gaps between students' thoughts and actions.

Safaei Moghaddam (1998) also recommends changes in the curriculum and structure of Iran's education system in order to make it possible to apply teaching philosophy to students. In Farmahini Farahani's (2014) research, the most important problems of teaching philosophy to students include the concept of philosophy as a discipline, lack of trained and skilled instructors to teach philosophy to children, breakdown between existing social values and norms, the ambiguous role of the teacher in this kind of education, to use precipitately philosophy for children's education, family's unawareness of teaching philosophy to children, and lack of children's cognitive development to understand abstract concepts. In a study by Farmahini Farahani et al. (2008), this finding has been taken into account that if officials of Iran's education want to successfully carry out their educational functions and prepare useful community members in the future, teaching philosophy is regarded as an undeniable necessity for children and students by schools and educational centers.

On the other hand, Abbasi (2001) states that in the educational system of Iran, information preservation and transmission is the dominant form of education and there are many problems with the teaching of critical thinking. Seraj khorrami and Moazemfar (2008) emphasize that in principle, Iran's educational system does not have a proper status in developing critical thinking. Marashi, Hashemi and Moghimi Gesk (2012) suggested that elementary textbooks in the Iranian educational system, such as mathematics, should use the story to grow students' philosophical thinking. In fact, from the point of view of these researchers, the elementary school textbooks should be designed and developed in accordance with the teaching of philosophy. While adapting and standardizing the critical thinking skills of students in California, Mehrinezhad (2007) found that the average scores of these skills compared to students of Tehran universities were significantly lower than those of students in several US universities. Mehrinezhad challenged the ineffectiveness of teaching methods in developing critical thinking and notes that teaching methods are lectures in all stages of the education, and the teacher describes the same predefined content and evaluates according to the amount of memory capacity and information being processed. In addition, curriculum time is predicted in advance of hours, and crowded classes that lack the student dynamic participation have made it very difficult to develop critical thinking.

The results of the research of Alipour, Seif Naraghi, Naderi, and Shariatmadari (2013) indicate that in the educational system of Iran, such categories as policies and missions of the educational system and socio-cultural conditions of the society and the conditions of teacher education, content, goals and teaching methods, underestimating the development of analytical, compositional, evaluation and judgment skills are major obstacles to the development of philosophical and critical thinking.

Conclusion

It could be argued that rapid changes and developments of today’s human societies and their undeniable facts, now more than ever, have drawn attention to teaching philosophy to students as a universal requirement since nowadays this pattern “is being executed in more than hundreds of countries” (Farmahini Farahani, 2008, p. 49). In addition, various studies (e.g.; Battrey, 1990; Jahani, 2001; Lipman, 2003, 1983; Ghaedi, 2004; Sharp, 2004 Safaei Moghaddam, 2010) have laid emphasis upon this requirement.  Indeed, this requirement is raised by the fact that it is possible to teach philosophy in the meaning of teaching philosophizing and the correct ways of thinking rather than abstract and complicated ideas and concepts that understanding of which is impossible for young students. As there is consensus that if abstract concepts are illustrated in an appealing and meaningful framework to the learners, they would maintain the required internal energy and motivation to learn these concepts. Accordingly, this way the philosophy itself could penetrate the real and practical life of the learners and could be appealing for them.

Needless to say, in this regard, changing the classrooms to the environments for collaborative discussion, debate, and conversation along with the guide of the teachers who are professionally ready could lay the grounds for putting learners’ potential thinking, reasoning and cognitive capacities into action. In this regard, acquainting the students with thinking and reasoning skills through various subject matters, such as history, science, literature, math, art, andpoem as well as introducing various story books which may be interesting for the learners could be effective and fruitful. In other words, holding discussion sessions or research circles in the classrooms and allowing the students to participate in different discussions on each lesson and designing various questions as well as guiding and leading the class processes by the teachers who has received essential trainings in this filed could foster philosophical attitudes in the learners’ subject matters, and accordingly, thereby it would facilitate the development of the learners’ thinking ability and even leads to deeply and meaningfully learning of educational concepts: a learning which stands in contrast to memorizing or parrot-like learning.

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