Aristotle Beyond the Academy

Aristotle in Ardoyne

"My favourite philosopher is Aristotle and his motto is 'make thinking a habit not a skill.'"

Conor is not a university student, but a pupil at Holy Cross Boys Primary School in Ardoyne, north Belfast. Ardoyne is a working class and predominately Catholic and Irish Republican district of Northern Ireland which gained notoriety during the Troubles as the site of several serious incidents of armed conflict.

But philosophy has become part of his and other pupils' lives, in and out of school.

Holy Cross is a big primary school with more than 400 boys right in the middle of Ardoyne. But right outside the school gates is the school mural, depicting a pupil in the pose of Rodin's The Thinker surrounded by pictures of Aristotle, Socrates and Plato. Boys take lessons about those ancient philosophers, lessons they use both inside and outside of the classroom.

For Alfie, knowing philosophy helps him deal with failure.

"In philosophy, you can use FDL - which is face it, deal with it and learn from it," he told BBC News NI.

The whole-school approach is the brainchild of Holy Cross principal Kevin McArevey.


Durham UniversityDurham University Centre for Classical ReceptionLeverhulme Trust