The Need to Introduce Philosophy for Children at the Basic Level of Education in Kenya
Mukabane, Naomi S.
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Among the aims of education in Kenya is to provide opportunities for the fullest development of individual talent and personality. This will make learners grow up into self-disciplined, self-reliant and integrated citizens who will play effective and productive roles in national development. Within these objectives is the need for education to shape learners in the way they think and live in the world. The rate of expansion of human knowledge has been so rapid in the recent years that there is increasing danger of what is learnt becoming obsolete in a short while. This stresses the need for learners to be more critical and creative in order to make it in the 21st century. Various countries like the U.S. and the U.K. have recorded vital contributions of philosophy for children among learners. Students who have done philosophy from an early age elicit admirable values such as intellectual humility, respect for divergent views, courage and open-mindedness which are useful in democratic institutions. As the whole world tends towards democratization, these qualities would be essential in realization of those prospects. Primary education is the foundation upon which mastery of formal learning skills must be planted so as to provide smooth transition to higher levels of learning. Due to the rising concern that the youth are facing challenges in adapting to the ever-changing environment of society and work, the primary curriculum in Kenya has undergone various adjustments. However we still have an increase in illicit activities like; drug addiction, homosexuality and general disillusionment among the youth, which depicts poor decision making due to lack of constructive critical thinking skills. Research shows that philosophy for children enhances cognitive ability, development of reasoning skills, dialogue, emotional and social skills. The discipline mainly focuses on developing critical and creative thinking skills of learners. This study examined the aims of education and its challenges, the nature and spirit of philosophy and the possible benefits of introducing philosophy for children at the basic level of education. It was mainly founded on constructivist theory that views learning as an active process of knowledge construction by the learner encouraging life-long learning attitude. Various philosophical methods like the analytical, speculative, critical and dialectical methods were employed. The study found that philosophy is first introduced at the university level of education in Kenya; and so the system does not maximize on the magnitude of benefits that can be accrued from exploring philosophy intensively and consistently from an early age. Therefore there is need to introduce philosophy for children at the basic level of education so as to promote the development of vital thinking skills and improve on the quality of education.