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The teaching of philosophy in the UK

MacDonald Ross, G. (2009) The teaching of philosophy in the UK. Diotime: revue internationale de didactique de la philosophie, 38. ISSN 1290-3485

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In order to give an account of the teaching of philosophy in schools in the UK (which is in fact very limited), I need to explain how the UK educational system is organised. By the end of my brief explanation, I am sure my francophone readers will consider terms such as ‘system’ and ‘organised’ to be wholly inappropriate descriptions.

First, we must distinguish between ‘public’ schools and state schools. Public schools are sometimes described as ‘private’ schools, because they charge fees and are independent of the state. This looks like a contradiction, because ‘private’ and ‘public’ are opposites. However, historically the contrast was between private education, when wealthy families would employ a tutor to teach their children at home, and public education, when families would send their children away to a school which was open to anyone who could pay the fees or obtain a scholarship. Most public schools are charitable foundations, with large endowments which enable them to charge less than the full economic cost of the education they provide, and to subsidise the education of some poor but able pupils. Nevertheless, the fees are very high, and only the wealthiest 8% of the population can afford to send their children to public schools. It is generally accepted that the best public schools are better than the best state schools, and there is much political debate about how to counterbalance the educational advantages that can be bought by money. Simply abolishing public schools is not an option, because of the European Declaration on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to opt out of state education.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: This is an author produced version of a paper accepted for publication in Diotime: revue internationale de didactique de la philosophie. Uploaded with permission from the publisher.
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Philosophy (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science (Leeds) > School of Philosophy (Leeds)
Depositing User: Leeds Philosophy Department
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2007 11:05
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 17:04
Status: Published
Publisher: CRDP académie de Montpellier
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3350

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