The Philosophy of Farming?

Philosophy sessions ‘boost primary school results’ (BBC News, 10 July 2015)

A study funded by the Education Endowment Fund has discovered that primary age pupils taking philosophy sessions perform better at maths and English. The obvious recommendation is that it should be rolled out to all pupils. Whether it is or not, remains to be seen.

However, I see this as a significant opportunity for the agri-food world to engage young people’s minds. Philosophy requires a rigorous approach to reasoning, handling evidence, precision and articulacy. Things that are often missing from the impassioned debates that  surround the controversial issues of bovine TB, crop protection, genetic modification, food prices, energy crops etc.

Sessions include a stimulus (such as an article or video), quiet thinking time (a precious commodity in schools), and group discussions.  The Philosophy4Children organisation has carefully linked the sessions to the curriculum so that teachers know they can afford to give it the necessary classroom time  (

There aren’t many topics more important than the food we eat, so if it isn’t already being discussed in the context of philosophy, it should be. We (farmers and the agri-food industry) have an important part to play as the stimulus – in offering information, viewpoints and being willing to be challenged by young minds. Here’s a great opportunity to go beyond telling young people where their food comes from and appeal instead to their higher order brains.

How could you help make young philosophers?


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