Philosophy Education: Interdisciplinary Connectedness

NZAPT believe that Philosophy is at the heart of human knowledge. Our curriculum has robust connections with virtually every aspect of the NZ Curriculum. Simply put, every discipline has its ‘philosophy of..’ – the Philosophy of Science, History, Sport, Psychology, Art’. This means that Philosophy can be very flexible in its delivery across curriculum areas, and crucially promises to overcome disciplinary compartmentalization. Philosophy education promotes interdisciplinarity as the basis of solid and robust disciplinary knowledge.

The new educational opportunities that philosophy education offers will be advantageous for all students, insofar as they promise to reduce inequity and focus of the future needs of students.

How might the promotion of philosophical thought reduce inequity?

NZAPT take their lead from UNESCO’s (1946) Preparatory Commission to develop a Philosophy Programme to:

…imbue the public mind with a certain number of philosophical and moral notions to be regarded as a minimum equipment, and which are calculated to reinforce respect for human personality.

We want to promote philosophy education as a school for human solidarity. NZAPT believe that philosophy education promotes mutual understanding and respect – notions fundamental to fostering dialogue between cultures.

In what ways does philosophy education focus on future needs?

Philosophy facing world problems
A recent UNESCO summit in Milan, Italy (14-16 February 2011) highlighted the difficulties of solving the multifaceted crises that human societies currently face,1 and the new ethical paradigms that these crises demand (especially in relation to the balance between our way of life and ecological concerns). With this in mind, NZAPT endorse the view that youth be equipped with solid conceptual tools that enable them to question the existing models, to seek meaning and to imagine new possibilities. NZAPT believe that philosophy teaching strongly develops imagination and creativity, which are indispensable for youth to be proactive in creating social, political and scientific innovations.

Philosophy: a school of freedom
Philosophy education is underpinned by many core ingredients of justice – it aims to provide each and every person with what they need to become capable of living rich and flourishing lives. Philosophy education reaffirms the idea that education contributes to building the intellectual autonomy of individuals, and refuses to reduce the education process to training for instrumental techniques and competencies. The priority should not be what you can do with philosophy, but what philosophy can do with you. That is, when one starts to question tacit assumptions and taken-for-granted knowledge and ideas, one starts to become a different kind of person – one that is capable of critically examining life.

The Maori ethical concept of Noa: (freedom from restriction) captures the essence of this idea. It represents a power that frees one from any quality or condition that makes them subject to any spiritual/ceremonial restriction and influences. Maori ethical ideas are based on behaviours that cultivate certain excellences of character. These excellences are the Tikinaga of a thing – its nature or function. And the nature of a person is manifest in conduct. The question of how we should best live and behave, weighs heavily throughout philosophy education. Like the concept of Noa, philosophy education is also associated with the spirit of freedom, justice and truth


Jay Sloss (President)
Teacher of Philosophy
Rangi Ruru Girls’ School

Libby Giles (Secretary)
Teacher of Philosophy
Auckland Girls’ Grammar

Richard Tweedie (Treasurer / New Contacts)
HOD and Teacher of Philosophy
Hagley Community College

Paul Alford (Curriculum Development)
Teacher of Philosophy
Western Springs College

Brent Silby (Internet outreach)
Teacher of Philosophy
Unlimited (UPT)

Damon King (Digital Librarian)
Teacher of Philosophy
Western Springs College

Rose Cook (Wellington Representative)
Teacher of English

Jonathan McKeown
Lecturer in Philosophy
Auckland University

George ter Wal
Teacher of Philosophy
Tauranga Boys’ College