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Scottish teaching has historically been recognised as aiming to provide a holistic education, and Philosophy is a subject area in which this breadth and depth can be achieved. Skills gained through the course are wide-ranging, from practical, theoretical, intellectual and social, enabling students to become richly fulfilled and ambitious individuals. Philosophy tuition can support this approach by having a rounded attitude towards each pupil and their attainment. The help of a Philosophy tutor can improve personal expression and broaden their perspective, as students prepare for exams and practise essay writing. Also debating skills to reason and argue effectively can be developed by studying different forms of discourse and practising orally in both group and one-to-one settings.
The aims of Philosophy tuition therefore, are to go further than simply teaching concepts and theoretical positions. As a discipline it is embedded in principles of interaction and the ability to criticise and evaluate different perspectives. Critical thinking is a core value, and should become integrated into reading, writing and discursive activities, as students adopt an enquiring attitude towards every aspect of their study. The opportunity to listen and reflect upon the opinions of a Philosophy tutor can be a hugely valuable way of developing evaluative skills, and structuring reasoned responses to questioning. The outcome is to stimulate productive philosophical debate and personal engagement with a wide range of human issues.
Example Unit: CRITICAL THINKING IN PHILOSOPHY
This unit develops the understanding of argumentation and the ability to recognise effective and ineffective methods of debate, which are important tools outside the classroom in many diverse situations. A Philosophy tutor may help students to differentiate between types of argument, to understand and identify ordinary language arguments, and to search material for fallacious reasoning in order to evaluate it effectively.
Example Unit: METAPHYSICS
This unit explores particular philosophical debates by considering the various positions that have been adopted towards it, for example: is there a rational basis for belief in God? Do we have a free will? These debates consider the significance of human existence as a whole, and both professional objectivity and personal insight are necessary to achieve at the highest level. Through Philosophy tuition, students can enhance their ability to integrate various approaches through in-depth discussion.
Example Unit: EPISTEMOLOGY
This unit is focused on the nature of knowledge, studying the positions of renowned Philosophers such as Descartes and Hume and the concepts of scepticism, rationalism and empiricism. These can supplement the student's own investigative work, developing their ability to think carefully about abstract, challenging concepts. Students can bring questions or doubts from class to their Philosophy tutor for further consideration, as the benefit of an expert point of view is invaluable.
Example Unit: MORAL PHILOSOPHY
This unit considers the issues surrounding moral judgement, investigating both Bentham and Mill's consequentialist theory of Utilitarianism, and Immanuel Kant's deontological approaches. Students consider moral decision-making on both an individual and societal level, building their ability to understand, analyse and criticise, but in relation to ethical issues. Philosophy tuition emphasizes the need to integrate this unit with knowledge and skills already attained, as well as reinforcing the use of correct terminology in oral and written work.