IB Philosophy - build practical skills

Help learners connect philosophical ideas with practical applications – 5 hands-on activities that keep DP philosophy learning contemporary and engaging.

IB Philosophy - Nancy Le Nezet

...what do you think happens when children refuse to conform with society's expectations?

Nancy Le Nezet on connecting DP philosophy with the real world

Teachers often mention it can be difficult to make connections between philosophical concepts and practical, real-world examples and ideas. I use non-philosophical stimuli to create links between philosophical theories and their practical applications – this approach can equip learners with confidence for assessments and build relevance, grounding knowledge acquisition in current, topical issues that teenagers can relate to.

Here are 5 activities you can try with your DP philosophy learners to connect subject knowledge with tangible real-world situations - from Nancy and her co-author Guy Williams:

#1 “Girls’ toys” and “boys’ toys”
Group activity – freedom

The development of gender identity can be deeply influenced by the kind of games and toys that children are given. On the internet, visit a popular toy or gift website and run a search for “girls’ toys” and “boys’ toys.” Have students discuss the following:

  • What differences do you notice in the search returns?
  • What social roles could these toys reinforce and encourage?
  • Do you think children are naturally drawn toward toys that are targeted for their gender, or do you think society teaches them what toys and roles are adequate for their gender?
  • What do you think happens when children refuse to conform with society’s expectations? Consider different examples, for instance, in different cultures and countries.

#2 If Descartes watched the Matrix...
Independent response – body and mind

Watch the film The Matrix. Does the film support or oppose mind-body dualism?

Imagine that Descartes watched The Matrix. Taking on the role of Descartes, write a review of the film from his perspective.

#3 A thought experiment
Class discussion – freedom

Imagine that scientists manage to prove that freedom does not exist and that all human behaviour is predictable. Discuss:

  • What would the philosophical and practical implications be?
  • What would human beings think of themselves?
  • What would become easier? What would become harder?

At the end of your thought experiment, decide if humanity is better off believing in freedom (whether it is actually an illusion or not).

#4 New-born babies and cognition
Research question – personhood

Research the development of foetuses and new-born babies, and particularly of the brain and cognitive abilities. Do you think there is a specific point when personhood begins?

#5 A dialogue with the Buddha
Critical analysis – body and mind

Write an imaginary dialogue between the Buddha and the five ascetics, in which the Buddha argues for the Middle Way, while the ascetics argue for asceticism. Incorporate arguments for and against their views on the mind-body relationship.

Research the Wheel of Life and produce your own diagram of it. Analyse the implications of Samsara for the way we view the physical body.

Analyse and explain how the Noble Eightfold Path could be used to discipline the body, without hurting it?

Investigate ways in which modern theories or knowledge could be used in a critique of Buddhism. Is there lasting value in this philosophy?

Nancy Le Nezet has taught DP Philosophy for ten years; she is currently based in Bangkok. Nancy is the author of the IB Philosophy Being Human Course Book.

More support from Nancy Le Nezet

IB Philosophy: Being Human Course Book

The new IB Philosophy Course Book equips learners to practically apply skills in philosophy, while connecting philosophical ideas with current, relevant situations.

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Oxford IB Diploma Programme: Philosophy: Being Human Course Book

Oxford IB Diploma Programme: Philosophy: Being Human Course Book

The only DP resources developed with the IB

Author Nancy Le Nezet, Author Chris White, Author Daniel Lee, and Author Guy Williams

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Paperback | 18/12/2014

Price:  £41.99

Also available as an ebook
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