Plato, metacognition and philosophy in schools

Peter Worley


In this article, I begin by saying something about what metacognition is and why it is desirable within education. I then outline how Plato anticipates this concept in his dialogue Meno. This is not just a historical point; by dividing the cognitive self into a three-in-one—a ‘learner’, a ‘teacher’ and an ‘evaluator’—Plato affords us a neat metaphorical framework for understanding metacognition that, I contend, is valuable today. In addition to aiding our understanding of this concept, Plato’s model of metacognition not only provides us with a practical, pedagogical method for developing a metacognitive attitude, but also for doing so through doing philosophy. I conclude by making a case for philosophy’s inclusion in our school systems by appeal to those aspects of philosophy (the conceptual, the self-consciousness and the epistemological) that are metacognitive or that are conducive to developing metacognition, as revealed by the insights afforded us by Plato’s Meno and Theaetetus.

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