Dalia Toonsi: "(...) we have several challenges [like] the dual hierarchal relationship between the teacher and the learner"
I met Dalia Toonsi through Roger Sutcliffe (Dialogue Works) and I later found Dalia and the project Baseera on twitter. I asked Dalia if she could collaborate with my blog and she accepted to anwer my questions.
This is Dalia's point of view on Philosophy for Children, at Saudi Arabia.
Can you recall the first time you heard about philosophy for children (p4c)?
It was in 2008 when I was doing my masters in Cardiff university UK. I was interested academically in developing moral reasoning with children and this took me in a journey where I reached philosophy for children as a mean to achieve my academic goal.
How did you started working with p4c?
I came back to Saudi Arabia 2010 with my level 1 certification from SAPERE, I started to gather a small group of children to do the sessions. It wasn’t easy, philosophy is not a popular topic in my country and its banned in schools so I could not call my sessions : P4C, I choose different names to call my sessions anything from wisdom to critical thinking as long as I don’t say “philosophy”. I started by gaining trust in the community, experience and competence came consequently and now, in 2019 the country is ready to accept new ideas and philosophy is on the table again after centuries of banning
Do you think p4c is necessary to children? Why?
Yes I do, first of all, I saw it work with my children, having adopted the p4c approach at home, it contributed hugely in there holistic wellbeing, I am biased but yes I think P4c is a right to every child.
Nowadays children ( @ Portugal) have a lot of activities at school and after school. Why should we take philosophy to schools?
I think its essential for the education systems to adopt the idea of P4c . it doesn’t just make children think, but it also adds to teaching and to the school environment in general a sense of community and meaningful growth
P4C prompts the orientation towards education revolving around the needs of the student more than the academic goals of the teacher. It improves the quality of social communication skills and teamwork and most of all, it prompts values, moral reasoning and individual responsibility.
What makes a question a philosophical question – from a p4c point of view?
A good philosophical question is the one that creates tension, a collision between concepts or maybe a sense of contradictory
This power of contestability within the question makes it irresistible to think about and to engage in.
What’s the biggest challenge p4c faces, nowadays?
I can speak of my country and we have several challenges:
- The bad reputation of philosophy
- The challenge of traditional content driven pedagogies
- And the dual hierarchal relationship between the teacher and the learner
Can you give the teachers and the parents some kid of advice to help them deal with the children’s questions?
Just say with all your attention and respect : hmm that’s a great question, I never thought about it before, what do you think?
Did the children ever surprised you with a question? Can you share that question with us?
I have a bank of over 700 questions and I cherish them all. I like so many of them but take this one for example:
Why do good thing happen to evil people?