Philosophy for Budding Young Scientists


Once upon a time, philosophy and science went hand in hand. The same thinkers who pondered how to be good, how to be an effective leader, and what made something beautiful, also pioneered physics, biology and mathematics. At some point, the two disciplines diverged, and it became common to study them separately.

Cut to 2019, when STEM is becoming STEAM (A for Arts), and even STREAM (R for reading and writing). It seems we’re growing increasingly aware of how science and humanities still need one another. You and your child can help bring them back together, and learn valuable thinking skills in the process.

There are lots of wonderful philosophy questions that can be blended in with scientific exploration. Here are just a few:

  • For math fans: What is a number? Are numbers really the same for everyone, or do we all think about them a little bit differently?
  • For aspiring zoologists: Are humans the same or different from other creatures? Do other creatures think like humans do? How do we know?
  • For wee astronomers: When did the universe begin? Is there anything that has always existed, or that will always exist?
  • For young chemists: If atoms are so small we can see them with our eyes, how did we figure out they were there? Are our eyes the only way to find things out?
  • For hopeful techies: Can robots be taught to think like humans? Do we really want them to think like humans?

Taking a cross-curricular approach to thinking not only ensures that your youngster is exposed to a variety of subject areas and perspectives, but also helps them to build all-around thinking skills. Being agile and open-minded in this way is likely to help them be successful in 21st century learning environments, and in their future careers. In addition to the analysis and problem-solving capabilities built in STEM-based subjects, they’ll also become more adept at communication, more creative, more globally-aware, and more effective in critical thinking.