Book Review: Provocations – Philosophy for Secondary School

IMG_0002Finding time in such a packed curriculum to explore more creative aspects of learning (and life) within secondary schools can be terribly challenging. With inspections and league tables deliberating over literacy and maths results, it is easy to see how school are not investing as much time in lessons which allow pupils to stop, develop their thinking, or explore their creative sides – much to the frustration to many teachers who want to ensure pupils become well-rounded individuals who can think logically and safely challenge many aspects of their own deliberations.

Many colleagues are well versed and understand the benefits of using philosophical thinking in their lessons, but various constraints restrict such a diversion. Cleverly managing time in the school day can allow for such thinking with the ideas suggested in “Provocations: Philosophy for Secondary School” by David Birch (edited by Peter Worley) a fantastic place to start. Philosophical session are invariably difficult to plan, as you do not know which direction discussions will turn – be prepared to change direction and improvise. “Lesson plans are only for the omniscient”, claims the author.

As you would expect, as this book is aimed for the benefit of secondary school pupils, some challenging provocations are contained within the four main sections of the book:

  • World, ‘It’ – Includes philosophical tasks such as: Belief in God; The Nature of Evil; Logic; Imperialism and Magic.
  • Self, ‘I’ – Privacy; Gender; Understanding Death; Autonomy; Emotion.
  • Society, ‘We’ – Utopia; Morality and the Law; Street Art; Power; Race; Democracy and Difference.
  • Others, ‘You’ – Animals; Egoism; Lying; Torture; Language and Discrimination; Sin; Feelings and Rights.

We have not included all the contents here, but given you a flavour of some of the interesting challenging debates and issues which this book can support you in managing.

Philosophy DOES have a place in modern day classrooms, but finding the time in an already packed school day is a challenge – there is no denying that. But this book shows teachers the importance to help pupils develop and justify their thinking (something that some in society are unable to achieve). Whether philosophical sessions take place within a PSHE curriculum, class assembly time, tutor time, or even within mixed in other subjects, teenagers need to have time to think about their thinking, with the provocations within this book being a fantastic place to start. An indispensable resource for any secondary teacher who wants to support develop their pupils thinking.

The Philosophy Foundation: Provocations – Philosophy for Secondary School written by David Birch (Edited by Peter Worley) is published by Crown House Publishing Limited, with an RRP of £14.99* – View the book via Amazon by clicking the image below:

*Prices correct at time of publication

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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