New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 12

Accepted Abstracts

Teaching Philosophy with the Help of Games

Floriana Battaglia, University of Pisa (Italy)

Lucio Bontempelli, University of Pisa (Italy)

Orazio Trinchera, Liceo Classico Giosué Carducci, Viareggio (Lucca) (Italy)


With this work we present an innovative experience of teaching philosophy, made in secondary school degree. Philosophical topics of the curriculum have been introduced through games. The games have been structured in such a way as to allow the start of a horizontal and free discussion among participants.

The games consist of a short group activities, which can be interpreted metaphorically and linked back to the topic under discussion. In this way, the choices made during the games have a double value: from the viewpoint of the player their function is simply to achieve the purpose of the game, but they can also be interpreted philosophically. At the end of the game, the facilitator asked a simple question, that is, how the students had experienced the situation and the reasons for their choices. All the students answered the question briefly. The question was subjective, did not require structured or complex arguments, and it kept the atmosphere of the game light and playful. After hearing the answers, the facilitator summarized them as philosophical hypotheses and put forward new problems to the group. Then, when everyone had proposed an idea and the ice was already broken, the discussion began. The games facilitated the participation of all the students who were in a pleasant situation and did not need to fear making mistakes or being judged.

The majority of participants expressed satisfaction with the activities: the reasons mainly concern the freedom of expression of ideas, the pleasure of being able to communicate in a group, curiosity about other people's ideas, the feeling of being able to reason and express a high level of abstraction. Some criticisms relate to the fact that the discussion did not produce any certain result: philosophy, however, is just a set of open questions, rather than the place of the answers, and the discomfort that comes because of the uncertainty is actually the way to form your own opinions. This methodology enables the development of transversal and disciplinary skills.

In this sense, the fact that philosophy in the Italian system of education is seen only as history of philosophy, means that we risk missing an important opportunity.

The purpose of this study is also to show that philosophy learning at the school can be seen not merely as a set of contents, but as a way to improve competences, such as thinking critically, reasoning, and communicating one’s own experience.

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