Session 6: Some Opportunities and Problems of Irish ‘Thinking-Time’
Chair: Sharon Kaye
Philosophy with Children
Is there a risk that ‘doing’ philosophy with children will kill the philosopher in the child?
In its literal sense philosophy means love of knowledge or wisdom. Blackburn (1996) defines philosophy as “the study of the most general and abstract features of the world and categories with which we think.” My data illustrates children’s abiding fascination with such features of the world, and the categories with which they think about difference. Blackburn also asserts that, for the philosopher, “the concepts with which we approach the world themselves become the topic of enquiry” (p.286). Thus my project, in raising children’s awareness of the categories they employ in engaging with the world, serves as philosophical end and means and may contain an embryonic pedagogy for intercultural education. While my research focuses primarily on the categories with which children think about difference, it indirectly raises questions as to whether the educational system, by isolating and defining numerous discrete subjects that are evaluated by the children’s ability to regurgitate the book content, is not in fact positively inhibiting critical thinking in both children and older students.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines philosophy as “any system of belief, values or tenets; a personal outlook or viewpoint.” This paper discusses children’s beliefs, values, personal viewpoints and categorisations on the topic of difference. Children’s ability to philosophise is demonstrated and their capacity to ‘do’ philosophy in a certain way is asserted. Nevertheless, words from children provide evidence suggesting that they are being socialised to abandon the activity of philosophising (Matthews 1980).
“I have no suggestions or thoughts. I like discussing and finding new things. I think it is good to discuss this.” These are the reflections of a 5 th class child evaluating a thinking session, unaware of the inherent contradiction in his words.
Ethos, Children and Plato’s Meno
St Patrick’s College, Dublin, Ireland
No abstract is presently available.