Session 7: Children, Values and Issues
Chair: Goedele de Swaef
A Community of Thinking: Philosophising with Young People About Ecological Issues
Roberta Vicentini and Luigina Mortari
University of Verona, Italy
The “Community of Thinking” is a place where young people discuss every day essential problems starting from their wishes, needs and experiences.
One of their main problems is the every day life in the city in which they should take an active part.
Then the “Community of Thinking” can have as issues of discussion the ecological question in the urban setting.
Building a “Community of Thinking” means to practise a philosophical method of discussion. Our educational method is grounded on the maieutical philosophy of Socrates.
The research involved students 8 to 14 years old, who formed a young Town Council in the city of Mantua (in the North East of Italy) whose by-law is to make suggestions to the adult Town Council. Given the huge numbers of participants involved, the group has been divided into two groups each lead by an educator .
In the “Community of Thinking” young people learn how to think for themselves and at the same time how to think together with others.
In our method the educator has the task to encourage critical thinking about meaningful questions according the following procedures: he/she suggests topics motivating his/her proposals, he/she introduces open questions in order to promote the discussion, raises doubts, asks for deeper investigations.
It is important that he/she plays an active but not judging role. Then the educator should develop the ability to encourage the production of ideas but at the same time he/she should avoid giving pre-established answers.
Methodological procedure : Each discussion was audio-recorded and verbatim transcribed, this allowed not only to analyse the youth’s thoughts but also allowed the educator to monitor his/her own work. Our analysis has been of a qualitative kind.
Object of analysis : two different styles of running the discussion have been used in order to stress how the different approaches have acted on the making of fruitful ideas.
The final data of this research will be exhibited in the next draft paper.
In the Interests of Children
Unisa, University of South Africa
In this paper I would like to propose that within a South African paradigm, which comprises of uniquely diverse cultures, moral education and philosophy is a compulsory and necessary tool in the education and transformation of children into enthographically significant individuals in their spaces of encounter with their fellow beings. I will analyse how moral education has the necessary and relevant products that can be transported and traded through moral knowledge acquisition which will be salient features of the development, interaction, and nurturing of communal, cultural, religious and moral identities of the youth of South Africa.
I will propose that moral education should be at the centre of educational discourse and training and should cut across class, race, culture and religious divides and so constitute a universal condition on which a truly moral national discourse and a modern moral notion of citizenship and personhood could be constituted in South Africa.
In my discussion I would explore the notion that children are capable of acquiring an insight into a moral form of life and that if exposed to concepts and issues pertaining to inquiries of character development, ethical behaviour, responsibility, justice, prudence, and compassion to list only a few of the qualities which would be analysed, children will live a life of an improved quality.
What is important is that children can and need adult guidance, supervision and interaction. This neglect on the part of some adults can be interpreted as a denial of the children’s ability to pick up and understand certain “mature” concepts of a philosophical form of life. My contention is that children can and do have the capacity and hunger for this type of development, particularly in our contemporary climate of amoralism. I think it is imperative that children can be given insight and guidance in their attempts to answer the question, Why should I be moral?
Pragmatist Value Inquiry
Montclair State University Maughn Gregory, Dept. of Educational Foundations, New Jersey, USA
In this paper I will bring together a number of ideas about value inquiry that I have taken from a number of pragmatist thinkers, and make them as coherent together as I can without hiding important tensions. By ‘value inquiry’ I mean inquiry into questions like: ‘What should we value?’ and ‘How should we pursue what we value?’ I will be using the term ‘values’ extremely inclusively, to cover needs, wants, ideals, preferences, goals, purposes, etc. I will begin by outlining a scheme of value experience consisting of four stages, following which I will discuss the purposes of value inquiry in relation to value experience. I will suggest three kinds of problematic value experience that might occasion value inquiry. I will then describe several points of method for pragmatist value inquiry and finally I will present a number of outcomes of that inquiry, which may be understood as tenets in a pragmatist theory of values and valuation. At the end of each of these sections of the paper I will explain what I see as the relevance of the section to children’s experience and our work in practicing philosophy with children.