PhD Candidate in Educational Philosophy
Peter is director of the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project. His research focuses on the nature and teaching of critical thinking. He has worked for many years as a curriculum head of science, mathematics and philosophy in high schools and is a consultant to the International Baccalaureate Organisation in the design and implementation of science curriclua. He won the 2008 Australian Skeptics $10,000 prize for Critical Thinking for his work in developing educational resources, and he was not improved by being faith-healed on national television.
Just Think – It’s Important
Why is philosophy as a subject such a fizzer in schools, asks Laura Parker.
For Said Bouziane, a year 11 student, using deductive logic is as easy as stacking chairs.
“One day after class I noticed a student pick up a pile of five chairs and place them on a pile of two. I wondered how many times this student chose the bigger, heavier, more troublesome pile of chairs,” he said.
Pondering reason and logic is a normal part of Said’s day at Calamvale Community College in Brisbane, where he studies philosophy under the guidance of teacher Peter Ellerton.
A former physics teacher, Mr Ellerton introduced the philosophy and critical thinking program to Calamvale after joining a network of Queensland teachers which promotes and spreads the teaching of philosophy in high schools throughout the state.
“Some people don’t understand what we mean by philosophy – they think it’s just discussion,” Mr Ellerton said. “The truth is it’s a rigorous and analytical subject; you have to do it properly. We don’t discuss the meaning of life. As a subject, I think it’s more fundamental than maths or English.”