Teaching philosophy in the classroom and its promotion of critical thinking in students
Kirwin, Susan M.
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Currently, educators are searching for more answers and possible solutions to the most recent educational crisis, our students' lack of ability to critically think. States are beginning to mandate programs that promote critical thinking in students beginning at the elementary level. This thesis focuses on the importance of teaching philosophy in the classroom and its promotion of critical thinking in students as one solution to this need for courses to "teach" critical thinking. The philosophy syllabus presented in this thesis does not "teach" educators or learners to critically think. It allows the student to evolve and progress as a critical thinker at a more individual rate. One class period, of 40 minutes per week, was devoted to the teaching of this syllabus to an experimental group consisting of 122 7th and 8th grade students. These students were broken into 4 individual classrooms, two seventh and two eighth. The experimental group, as well as the control group, consisted of a heterogeneous mixture of learning disabled students, below average students, average students, and above average students in each classroom. This case study took place from September of 1992 to May of 1993. Students were involved in Socratic discussions weekly and lectured on "logical" concepts such as syllogisms during this school year. Journals were kept by the students reflecting their thoughts and ideas about the program. The journals were collected weekly to provide constant feedback on the program by the students. Upon completion of the syllabus, The New Jersey Test of Reasoning Skills was administered to both the control and experimental groups, the entire junior high population of 222 students. The experimental group scored, on average, 17% higher on the test than the control group. An average score of 37.75 correct out of 50 was achieved by the experimental group. These results, compared to 29.35 correct out of 50 by the control group, are significant in value. The results have been documented in this thesis and have significant value, as determined by the t-score, which supports the teaching of philosophy in the classroom to promote critical thinking in students.