Critical thinking encouraged at Malabar Public

Students at Malabar Public School are encouraged to discuss different topics and situations in their weekly philosophy lessons.

Students sitting in rows. Students sitting in rows.
Image: Year 6 students at Malabar Public School discuss a wide range of thought-provoking issues and ideas as part of their whole-school philosophy program.

Can we control our dreams? Can siblings be friends? Can you have a tantrum without showing it?

These are just some of the thought-provoking questions students at Malabar Public School are discussing in their weekly philosophy lessons.

As part of the school’s Education Week celebrations, parents were invited back into the classroom to join the conversation.

In Year 6, desks were cleared and books put away as students discussed whether they could control certain situations and scenarios, like the colour of their hair, feelings of embarrassment, or even their dreams.

When asked about controlling emotions, one Year 6 student suggested that if we could, there would not be things like depression, while another pointed out while we may not be able to control how we feel, we can control our physical reaction to the emotion.

There was no right or wrong answer, just an expectation for all students to provide their own unique perspectives while listening to their peers and being respectful of everyone’s thoughts and opinions.

It is part of the school’s philosophy program that runs in Term 3 each year, where all students spend one hour every Wednesday afternoon exploring philosophical questions about human nature and behaviour.

Discussions can range from whether cats are better than dogs in Kindergarten, to more complex issues, like war, in Year 6.

The lessons encourage students to explore their thoughts and reasoning, providing them with a unique opportunity for personal growth and critical thinking.

Principal Neil Atwell said the program had been running for 12 years at Malabar Public School and had led to improved student behaviour and learning outcomes across the school.

“Philosophy offers a layer to our teaching programs that has benefits far beyond the classroom,” he said.

“The Philosophical Enquiry program at Malabar has enhanced our student’s capacity to not only express their personal beliefs and opinions on a wide range of thought provoking and challenging issues and ideas, but it has also equipped them with the skills and confidence to express their beliefs in a forum that can often be daunting.

“I believe parents would be amazed at the depth of the student’s thoughts on worldly matters that traditionally they are not expected to have an opinion about.”

At the end of each lesson, students give feedback on whether they have listened, taken turns and been respectful of other people’s opinions by giving either a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

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