Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 23 May 1972

Vol. 261 No. 1

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Leaving Certificate Course.


asked the Minister for Education whether he considers that logic would be a useful additional subject for the leaving certificate course.


asked the Minister for Education whether the inclusion of philosophy as a subject in the leaving certificate course is under consideration; and, if so, why his Department considers it a suitable subject.

I propose, a Cheann Comhairle, to take Questions Nos. 31 and 32 together.

A representative working party has been set up to consider the question of the introduction of philosophy which may contain elements of logic as a subject in the leaving certificate course. Until I receive the report and recommendations of this working party I am not in a position to comment on the matter.

I am quite certain that the Parliamentary Secretary is not as innocent as he pretends to be. He knows better than I do what philosophy is. Does he not realise—I am sure he does—or do his officials not realise that philosophy is not a suitable subject for immature people whereas logic is suitable as a school subject? Talking about elements of logic is not here or there. Surely the subject that would be suitable for schools would be logic? It is the subject which in universities is substituted for mathematics very often, certainly in first year arts at UCD, and this has been so for many years. In these circumstances, if the Department of Education in their enthusiasm for new things were to put any part of philosophy into the secondary education course, the place to put it, in view of the age at which students leave our schools, is at the leaving certificate stage rather than attempt to teach philosophy to students who normally leave school at the age of 18 or 18½. It is completely different in England where secondary school students remain until 19 or 20.

One cannot prejudge the report and recommendations of this working party but I wonder if the Deputy is not interpreting philosophy in a narrow sense: it simply means the pursuit of truth and wisdom. I do not know that children at any age would be too young for it; I am not pre-judging the recommendations.

The Parliamentary Secretary is not nearly as innocent as he pretends and he knows as well as I do that philosophy is an extremely complex subject whereas logic is like geography——

Does the Parliamentary Secretary agree that there can be two views on this matter and that some schools have taught philosophy successfully in this country for over 30 years and that, in fact, courses in philosophy in the closing years of school can be a very helpful introduction both to life and to the universities?


Surely the Parliamentary Secretary will agree with me that he ought to express his opinion as to whether a complex subject like philosophy is suitable for secondary schools.

When the body that have been set up to examine this matter have reported then we can express views on it.

We shall wait and see what they come up with.