PATHS – A Philosophical Approach to Thinking Skills
The research project began in 2018 to rethink philosophy in a perspective for all, as was also suggested by the document issued by the Ministry of Education’s Guidelines for learning philosophy in the knowledge society. As a result of a number of surveys, focusing on upper secondary school teachers and the actual need to improve student learning, and following a comparison with national and international studies, as well as with the experiences of didactic innovation in recent years, a didactic model was developed based on a philosophical approach to critical thinking. This model (PATHS) was tested in three schools in Tuscany, selected on the basis of their fragility. The lockdown offered the opportunity to test the PATHS for words model on a national scale, in order to model the entire training process proposed by INDIRE. The research also included outreach and training sessions for teachers at all levels and grades of school in the country. Two online summer schools and numerous regional seminars and training interventions were run at schools in 2020 and 2021. Growth, in terms of school and teacher participation, is another element that strengthens this research. In October 2021, almost 1,100 teachers from 763 schools were trained to use this teaching model. Proof of the diffusion of the model in an interdisciplinary perspective is the number of teachers who use this approach. Indeed, almost 60% do not teach philosophy and come from technical and professional institutes.
This programme starts with the common language, with the ordinary word. For some time, schools have been experiencing an increase in the linguistic impoverishment of students due to several factors. In some cases, this criticality implies some difficulty in knowing how to reason, providing arguments and, more generally, in knowing how to exercise autonomous critical thinking.
The research objectives are:
- OB1 to develop and promote didactic models based on the philosophical approach based on words studied to promote linguistic empowerment and educate critical thinking, argumentation and dialogue to improve student learning.
- OB2: To upgrade how philosophy is taught by enriching the curriculum of technical and professional institutes and first cycle schools.
- OB3: To share didactic experiences and online materials to support the community of teachers (not only teachers of philosophy) who are interested in experimenting with the proposed programmes and in disseminating the results obtained.
The questions that drive the research, according to the idea that philosophy is also a reflection on the word and its meanings, are:
- How can students be supported in their personal search for meaning?This question requires us to reflect on the growing discomfort seen in schools with respect to the linguistic impoverishment of students and their difficulty in exercising critical thinking.
- What branch of philosophy can be included in the curriculum of technical and professional institutes?In the light of the guidelines issued by the Minister of Education, Patrizio Bianchi, and the recent school reforms, the question investigates the possibility of introducing philosophy into technical and professional schools.
- How can students be helped to resist the phenomenon of fake news?Faced with the “decline of truth”, as declared by philosophers, the question promotes the search for tools and techniques to help students overcome the obstacle of fake news.
- What are the teaching methods that can improve teaching provided for teachers?The question reflects the real need to improve the effectiveness of teaching, using methods and approaches that, through philosophy, are able to propose interdisciplinary actions.