International Society For Philosophers

International Society
For Philosophers


Pathways Schools 2003

Matthew Del Nevo and Peter Schmiedgen

This year Pathways Schools was trialled at Catherine McAuley, a Catholic Girl's High School in Sydney with an enrollment of 1120. The course consisted of ten Philosophy Pathways introductory units, five of which were selected from 'The Possible World Machine' [Pathways program A. Introduction to Philosophy — see below, Ed.].

Students did one unit a month, which involved 4 hours of home study a week, toward a written assessment for the unit, and a Community of Inquiry held at school in each topic area.

Twelve girls were selected from Years 8 to 10 (ages 14-16). One girl from Year 8, Caitlin Hosking; seven girls from Year 9, Seaview Kama, Rebecca Abdou, Jessica Mohr, Alysar Aboumelem, Margaret Dobrucki, Ashley Langton, Sophia Kolnar; and four girls from Year 10, Teresa Moran, Emma Gallagher, Michele Martyn and Angeli Toledo.

Emma from Year 10 and Caitlin from Year 8 were given Special Merit certificates for their outstanding effort in Philosophy. All girls merited a certificate for completing this one year course and proving their capacity for autonomous learning and dealing with material which was mostly new to them.

Credit must go to the School, and thanks to its Principal, Mrs Johnstone-Croke, and Philosophy facilitator, Mrs Teresa Wilson, for supporting and promoting this experimental program.

The virtue of Pathways Schools for practitioners of the Community of Inquiry pedagogy — as promoted by SAPERE in England — is that it gives a structure and framework, a directedness, to the proceedings. The Community of Inquiry is not ad hoc, but arises out of common reading, comparable research and common written assessment at the month's end. This makes for an improved Community of Inquiry.

Pathways Schools is a program that either requires some support from within the School, that is, someone who is able to facilitate the program, or else, the School may out-source its Philosopher — as in fact Catherine McAuley did this year. Schools receive a complete kit, with assessments, reading list, study guide and of course unit materials.

Selection of students for the program was based on their being at the top of their class in the majority of their subjects, and recommended by their teachers as students who could be trusted to catch up on any work they missed. Students came out of classes for the morning of the Community of Inquiry and were awarded an hour out of lessons each week, an hour of their choice (which they liked!) in order to research for the assessment.

At Catherine McAuley the students came out tops, showing that even at school age students can find the motivation to do extra work when it is engaging and fun.

© Matthew Del Nevo and Peter Schmiedgen 2003

E-mail: mdelnevo@mail.usyd.edu.au


Appendix: Pathways Schools program 2003

Unit 1 — The First Philosophers
Unit 2 — Searching for the Soul
Unit 3 — The 'I' and Consciousness
Unit 4 — Right and Wrong
Unit 5 — Possible Worlds
Unit 6 — Knowledge and Doubt
Unit 7 — Other Minds
Unit 8 — Personal Identity
Unit 9 — Why be Moral?
Unit 10 — Perception and Reality

Unit 1 is taken from Pathways program C, Ancient Philosophy. Units 2 and 3 are from Pathways program B, Philosophy of Mind. Units 4 and 9 are from Pathways program E, Moral Philosophy. Units 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 are from Pathways program A, Introduction to Philosophy. See http://www.philosophypathways.com/programs/pak2.html.