Lesson 1

Introducing the Topic of Animal Minds

This lesson introduces key concepts such as the animal mind and the challenges of studying the minds of animals. It also raises questions such as:

What constitutes intelligence? What is a mind? How should we research non-human animals? What is the difference between philosophy and psychology? 

Skills used:

  • Curriculum: SCN 2-11a, SCN 2-20a, SCN 2-20b
  • Independent thinking and group discussion
  • Developing arguments and giving reasons for a viewpoint
  • Appraising / comparing evidence

Key Resources: (All resources can be downloaded in one go on the quick download page.)

Lesson slides, L1 –  Lesson slides containing prompts for pupils as well as related video links, designed to introduce general themes and spark class discussion.

Lesson plan, L1 (77 downloads) – Summary of the lesson content, including learning intentions, success criteria and the resources needed.

Teacher notes, L1 (72 downloads)   – Detailed explanation of how the class activities work, as well as full information for leading class debates, including details about the mind-body debate in philosophy and psychology.

Annotated slides, L1 – Additional information, paired with the appropriate slides in the presentation.


Worksheets: (These resources can also be easily printed as part of the student work booklet)

Pre-program Questionnaire (65 downloads) – Researcher questionnaire used to asses the impact of lessons on pupils. This resource can be used by teachers to measure pupil progress over the course of the program and check to understanding. See contact us for more information.

Pre-program Teacher Questionnaire (64 downloads) – Researcher questionnaire used to investigate philosophy/psychology teaching in schools. See contact us for more information.

'How Intelligent?' scale – Blank scale for the task on slide 8, ‘How Intelligent Are These Things?’ (This resource can also be saved for use in lesson 6!)

Images for intelligence task – Images for the above task (slide 8). These should be cut out so that pupils can move them about the scale during discussion. (This resource can also be saved for lesson 6!)

'What is it like to be a bat?' worksheet – Thought experiment considering how a bat would investigate humans, slide 23.

Additional resources:

Glossary– Definitions and more information surrounding the key terms of the topic, for teacher reference where necessary.

A Brief Guide to philosophy of Mind – Some background information about the philosophy of mind – providing information and evidence about materialism and dualism (the main stances in philosophy of mind).

A Brief Guide to Philosophical Issues about Animals – Background information about the main debates to do with animals in the philosophy of mind – do animals have minds? How should they be treated?

A Brief Guide to Brains – An overview on brains – how and when they developed, how research into the brain is done and how human and chimp brains relate.

Further brief guides can be found alongside the lessons where they are most relevant.