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filocriatiVIDAde | filosofia e criatividade

oficinas de perguntas, para crianças / para pais e filhos | formação para professores e educadores (CCPFC) | #filocri | #filopenpal

filocriatiVIDAde | filosofia e criatividade

oficinas de perguntas, para crianças / para pais e filhos | formação para professores e educadores (CCPFC) | #filocri | #filopenpal

Sandra Fonseca e Elsa Alves: "A Fpc (...) permite (...) o confronto com a diferença, a descoberta da riqueza da pluralidade (...)"

Conheci a Sandra e a Elsa através da Pós-Graduação da Universidade dos Açores. Trabalham na Escola Portugueesa de Macau (EPM), onde dinamizam oficinas de filosofia junto das crianças e adolescentes. 

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Para acompanhar o seu trabalho, podem visitar a página de facebook do Clube de Filosofia da EPM

 

 

Lembram-se da primeira vez que ouviste falar de filosofia para crianças?

Sandra: Sim, lembro-me como se fosse hoje. Ouvi falar pela primeira vez de Fpc em 2007, quando terminei o curso de Filosofia. Na época a área ainda era pouco conhecida e poucas escolas sabiam da sua existência. Fiquei muito curiosa, tentei saber mais sobre os seus percursores e fundamentos e achei que seria um desafio para o futuro.

Elsa: A primeira vez que ouvi falar de FpC foi através da Sandra, que já dinamizava um Clube de Filosofia juntamente com um dos nossos colegas. Interessei-me pelo projeto, pois as ferramentas de pensamento que desenvolviam eram precisamente aquelas que faltavam na generalidade dos alunos. A partir daí foi um caminho em conjunto: fizemos a Pós-Graduação em 2014/15 e, nesse mesmo ano, iniciámos a prática regular e alargada de FpC na Escola Portuguesa...até hoje!

 

Como é que começaram a trabalhar nesta área?

O Projeto de Fpc foi está implementado na Escola Portuguesa de Macau desde o início do ano letivo de 2013/2014. O Projeto foi muito bem recebido no seio da comunidade escolar, quer pelos professores, encarregados de educação, quer pelos alunos. A adesão tem sido muito significativa, temos crescido e trabalhamos com turmas do 1º ao 9º ano. Já se realizaram várias atividades bastante enriquecedoras, que revelam que os objetivos traçados para o Projeto estão a ser cumpridos.

 

Consideram que a fpc é necessária para as crianças? Porquê?

Sim, defendemos a ideia de que a Fpc é muito necessária e deve ser iniciada o mais cedo possível. A atividade do filosofar ajuda a manter vivas nas crianças e jovens a curiosidade, a disposição para investigação em conjunto e permite o desenvolvimento competências de raciocínio, comunicação, socialização e desenvolvimento do espírito crítico.  Através do diálogo entre alunos, da realização de debates e de trabalhos em conjunto, a Fpc procura fomentar nos alunos a sua curiosidade natural, a capacidade de verbalizar aquilo que pensam, a sua cooperação na resolução de problemas, a respeitar a diferença sob a égide de valores morais e éticos humanos fundamentais para a felicidade, responsabilidade e liberdade individual e coletiva.

O acompanhamento deste projeto tem permitido observar que o contexto  multicultural da Escola Portuguesa de Macau tem atuado como um estímulo ao desenvolvimento da linguagem, pois os participantes necessitam de enunciar, exemplificar, clarificar, definir, justificar aquilo que consideram significativo. Numa escola com estas características, a procura de significado em comunidade de investigação filosófica estimula, também, a construção do pensamento criativo através de analogias e o desenvolvimento da (contra)exemplificação. A prática do diálogo, da descoberta de conexões entre conceitos e da sua verificação através de critérios lógicos tem encorajado o desenvolvimento do pensamento crítico e reflexivo.

 

Hoje em dia as crianças, em Portugal, têm muitas actividades na escola e depois da escola. Por que havemos de levar a filosofia para as escolas?

Pelas razões mencionadas acima.  

A Fpc é um espaço que permite às crianças e jovens o confronto com a diferença, a descoberta da riqueza da pluralidade, a aprendizagem de como lidar com a conflitualidade e de como fazer escolhas responsáveis e consequentes no exercício da liberdade individual.

 

O que faz com que uma pergunta seja uma questão filosófica – do ponto de vista da fpc?

Uma pergunta que nasça do espanto, aberta à reflexão, que permita o diálogo, a investigação e a descoberta em conjunto.

 

Quais são os maiores desafios que a Fpc enfrenta, nos nossos dias?

Estimular a curiosidade, o diálogo dentro e fora das salas de aula e combater a conformidade, o desinteresse e a ideia de que a Filosofia não tem utilidade.

 

Podem dar alguns conselhos aos professores e aos pais para os ajudar a lidar com as perguntas das crianças?  

Os conselhos que damos são nunca ignorar uma pergunta de uma criança, saber ouvi-la com muita atenção, dar espaço ao diálogo, quer em casa quer fora de casa e fomentar o espanto, a curiosidade e o diálogo na criança.

 

Alguma vez foram surpreendidas com uma pergunta de uma criança? Podem partilhar connosco que pergunta foi essa?

Sempre que participamos em sessões de filosofia para crianças surgem perguntas que nos surpreendem, seja pela profundidade que revelam, seja por quem as coloca, seja ainda pela forma como estimulam o diálogo. Estes são alguns exemplos:

- O que é que as pessoas pensam do mundo?

- Será que sonhar é pensar?

- Há regras para pensar?

- Justiça quer dizer igualdade?

- O que significa admiração?

- Qual a relação entre a raça humana e o egoísmo?

- A minha sabedoria é o teu orgulho?

- Porque temos medo de coisas de que os outros não têm?

Mas também há analogias admiráveis:

- Se eu fosse um livro, seria sempre um livro incompleto, porque começamos sempre com ideias diferentes daquelas com que terminamos.

- Se não houvesse liberdade, eras como um puzzle diferente dos outros: faltava-te a peça mais importante.

 

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David Whitney: "(...) I don’t think philosophy is an ‘optional extra’ for a school’s curriculum.  How can learning how to think be optional?" 

David Whitney is a full-time primary school teacher and SMSC leader from Warwickshire in England. He has led bespoke philosophy for children programmes across a federation of schools and is the creator and writer of Delphi Philosophy, an interactive storytelling approach to philosophy for children.

I met David on Twitter and decided to contact him so he can answer my questions.

Thank you, Dave!

 

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Can you recall the first time you heard about philosophy for children (p4c)?

I first came across philosophy for children when I was researching at university.  I was researching the idea of childhood innocence and trying to find examples of children showing abstract thinking at a young age.  I immediately loved the sound of it – and it debunked the myth that children aren’t capable of complex or abstract reasoning.  I didn’t see it in practise until I tried it for myself many years later.

 

How did you start working with p4c?

It was in my first year of teaching when I started to look into it – the children at my school have extraordinary passion and curiosity for their learning and I just thought they’d love it.  Then I read a book which made it all possible – The If Machine by Peter Worley.  I put the enquiries in that book into a scheme of work and built in some skill development, and away we went.  The impact of that first scheme was amazing.  I taught an enquiry called The Chair in the first lesson and the children were astonished.  They had just never had a lesson like it.  They were literally still talking about that lesson two years later!

 

Do you think p4c is necessary to children? Why?

Absolutely.  The reason is simply because children try to do it anyway.  On the one hand, much of the school curriculum includes skills which are developed by doing philosophy, but are never explicitly taught.  Children need the ability to give reasons, think of examples or change their mind, to give a few examples, in all their lessons – but our maths or English curriculum rarely gives them time to develop these skills. On the other hand, children are also natural philosophers.  I love the line in Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World, where Alberto tells Sophie that philosophers have to “regain the faculty of wonder” that they had when they were children.  When you teach children philosophy, it feels like you’re unleashing some natural inner power in them!  Philosophy has the power to really bring out potential.

 

Nowadays children ( @ Portugal) have a lot of activities at school and after school. Why should we take philosophy to schools?

It’s much the same in England – one of the toughest parts of my job has not been persuading teachers that philosophy for children is a good idea – the hard part is finding time for it.  

But I don’t think philosophy is an ‘optional extra’ for a school’s curriculum.  How can learning how to think be optional? Once school leaders and teachers realise that philosophy teaches skills which the children go on to use in all their lessons, then they see the value of it. 

We developed Delphi Philosophy with this in mind – philosophy for children can be so much more than an interesting discussion – it can really develop children’s thinking and reasoning skills in a very clear and measurable way.

 

What makes a question a philosophical question – from a p4c point of view?

One of the funniest things about teaching children philosophical questions is that they have no problems asking them – but saying the word ‘philosophical’ can be a bit of a challenge!  In Delphi Philosophy, we’ve taken to calling them ‘big questions’.  In the story of Delphi the Philosopher, Delphi gets told that a philosophical question is one that doesn’t have a right answer, but you can get better answers by thinking about it. That definition seems to work well in class. 

The best philosophical questions for class discussions are usually simple enough for anyone to access but deep enough to challenge everybody.  A four year old can tell you what “being good” means, while a professional philosopher might know a lot of possible answers, none of them ‘right’. That makes it a philosophical question.

 

What’s the biggest challenge p4c faces, nowadays?

The challenge comes from all the other competing influences on schools.  I’m a full-time teacher and the vast majority of my time is spent teaching English and maths, planning, marking and assessing.  There are so many pressures on schools in England at the moment, and anxiety about inspection or data scrutiny is deeply ingrained in the system.  The sad reality is that schools end up feeling forced to teach a narrow curriculum based on passing the tests – which of course, isn’t real learning at all. 

In my experience, philosophy sessions are a highlight for the children because they are so refreshingly different from much of the rest of the curriculum.

 

Can you give the teachers and the parents some kind of advice to help them deal with the children’s questions?

Don’t be scared of them!  And don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know, and then ask them what they think. Sometimes a scary sounding question isn’t half as scary as it first sounds!  The most important thing is the conversation, not the answer.

 

Did the children ever surprise you with a question? Can you share that question with us?

The children constantly surprise me – every single day.  Writing the Delphi stories for the children in my school has been such a delight because it’s a reciprocal process – the children’s responses to the stories help me re-write them so that Delphi shows their responses.  One early example in my career was the first time I taught the enquiry about the invisibility ring – and what they would do with it. The first class who did this enquiry with me surprised me by all agreeing they should throw the ring in the river and be rid of the responsibility of using it.  So, I had Delphi do exactly the same thing.  Having a class of children to help me develop these stories is the most extraordinary privilege.

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. 

 

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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?

 

 

Oscar Brenifier: "Do not answer the questions of children, unless they first propose themselves an initial hypothesis, or different ones. Teach them to be autonomous, instead of mere consumers."

Oscar Brenifier, holds a Bachelor of biology degree (University of Ottawa) and a PhD in Philosophy (Paris IV – Sorbonne). For many years, in France as well as in the rest of the world, he has been working on the concept of ‘philosophical practice’, both from a theoretical and practical viewpoint. He is one of the main promoters of the project of philosophy in the city, organizing philosophy workshops for children and adults and philosophy cafés, working as a philosophy consultant, etc. He has published about fifty books in this domain, including the ‘Philozenfants’ series (Editions Nathan), which has been translated into over thirty-five languages. He founded the Institut de Pratiques Philosophiques (Institute of philosophical practice), to train practical philosophers and organize philosophy workshops in various places: schools, old people’s homes, prisons, social centers,organizations, etc. He is one of the authors of the UNESCO report: “Philosophy, a school of freedom”. 

 

At the Institut de Pratiques Philosophiques' website there are free books that you can download.

 

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Can you recall the first time you heard about philosophy for children (p4c)?

I vaguely remember: I was still young at the  time. It  was when I proposed to an  elementary school to hold a philosophy workshop with the children . Until then I was primarily doing workshop with adults. But when later on I heard the coined expression “P4C”, I noticed it often had little to do with philosophy.

  

How did you started working with p4c?

In a regular way, it was when my eldest daughter entered kindergarten. I proposed to the director of the school to hold regular workshops with different classes of children, aged between 3 and 5. I then made different experiments, invented diverse exercises, to make the children think. 

 

Do you think p4c is necessary to children? Why?

No, it is not necessary. No more than art or gymnastics is necessary. Most people live without exercising their body or their mind, and manage quite well to survive. But of course, one might criticize the fact that they are missing on something important.

  

Nowadays children ( @ Portugal) have a lot of activities at school and after school. Why should we take philosophy to schools?

I don’t think we should. There is no foundation for such an obligation. But the good thing about philosophy is precisely that it is a non-activity, in the middle of all these activities.

  

What makes a question a philosophical question – from a p4c point of view?

Strange presupposition. It implies that there is a specific “p4c point of view”. I did not know. In a more general way, I don’t think there is such a thing as “philosophical questions”, but there are philosophical ways to deal with a question. For example, multiplicity of answers, guidance of reason, argumentation, problematization, etc. In this sense, all questions can be  philosophical.

  

What’s the biggest challenge p4c faces, nowadays?

To do philosophy, instead of holding cute discussions, going beyond a mere exchange of feelings and opinions. Learning to listen attentively, to analyse, to question rigorously, etc.

 

Can you give the teachers and the parents some kid of advice to help them deal with the children’s questions?

Do not answer the questions of children, unless they first propose themselves an initial hypothesis, or different ones. Teach them to be autonomous, instead of mere consumers.

  

Did the children ever surprised you with a question? Can you share that question with us?

Yes. “Can I go out to the toilet?”. I was surprised, because I naively forgot how much human beings connect to their body more than to their mind.

 

Amy Leask: "(...)a learning environment that encourages big questions creates a bond of trust between students and their teachers."

"Hello, my name is Amy Leask and I'm a philosopher!" - this is how Amy introduces herself at her ted talk (tedxmilton). I met Amy and her project RedTKids on Twitter. 

Amy Leask is an author, educator, and children’s interactive media producer. She’s the founder of Red T Media in Ontario, Canada, and delights in finding new ways to reach curious little minds. 

 

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Can you recall the first time you heard about philosophy for children (p4c)?

I heard about philosophy of childhood while I was an undergraduate, but nothing about philosophy for children until I was teaching at the college level. There were a lot of intelligent young adults in my philosophy classes who had never really put together an argument of their own, and who didn’t realize they were allowed to disagree, or think critically about the ideas presented to them. Like most P4C advocates, I thought philosophy needed to be introduced at a younger age, and when I looked into it further, I found I wasn’t alone. There was a growing community of philosophers who wanted to bring a new kind of thinking to a younger audience.

 

How did you started working with p4c?

While I was teaching philosophy to big kids, I started writing material that presented philosophical ideas to children. I wanted to create something fun and entertaining that they could read to themselves, but that also encouraged them to ask questions, and to embrace logic and reason. Over the years, my original manuscript has turned into a number of books, as well as cartoons, games, apps, and teacher materials. Presently, I run an independent multimedia company that focuses almost exclusively on P4C, in interactive formats.  

 

Do you think p4c is necessary to children? Why?

21st century learning is founded on thinking practices that, ironically, have been around for millennia in philosophy. Children today may be digital natives, but they still need low-tech skills like critical thinking, problem solving, communication and creativity in order to successfully navigate school, the working world, and their personal life.

I see P4C as an effort to teach children survival skills, but also to empower them, and to engage them in a practice that’s shared by all humans. Beyond the necessary parts, children really enjoy asking big questions, and it’s actually fun for them to engage in discussion. Why not make the most of what comes naturally to them?

 

Nowadays children ( @ Portugal) have a lot of activities at school and after school. Why should we take philosophy to schools?

It’s expected that teachers cover things like critical thinking and problem solving in their curriculum, but both are fairly difficult things to teach, especially in a crowded classroom, with limited time and resources. P4C enables teachers to reach so many learning objectives. What’s more, I think a learning environment that encourages big questions creates a bond of trust between students and their teachers. If a child knows his or her teacher isn’t afraid to dive into inquiry, he or she will feel more supported and comfortable going beneath the surface of ideas.

P4C has cross-curricular applications, and is helpful in supporting children’s mental health, anti-bullying programs, and an appreciation of diversity. It works wonders, both inside and outside the classroom, and it helps children become well-rounded thinkers.

 

What makes a question a philosophical question – from a p4c point of view?

I think most philosophical questions have a “why” component to them. We have to use different lines of thinking to answer them, different than we would use to answer a scientific question. I’d say a philosophical question is one that has more than one answer, although some answers are still better than others. Philosophical questions are about our place in the universe, our relationships with other beings, and about ourselves.

The beautiful thing about P4C is that children seem especially adept at asking these kinds of questions (and taking their parents by surprise in doing so). It’s a privilege and a pleasure to help them reason their way through them.

 

What’s the biggest challenge p4c faces, nowadays?

Philosophy itself is in need of rebranding. It has a reputation of being for adults, and for belonging only in the academy. Most grown-ups, let alone children, don’t know much about it, and those who do know about it are often intimidated by it. The challenge lies in extending the reach of philosophy and making it part of people’s everyday lives. It needs to be mainstream, and people need to know how helpful, how interesting, and how much fun it is. We need to find ways to demonstrate that it really is for everyone.

 

Can you give the teachers and the parents some kid of advice to help them deal with the children’s questions?

First and foremost, don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know. As adults, we fear that in admitting this, we’ll be letting our children down, that they’ll no longer have confidence in us. However, it’s actually quite liberating, and being vulnerable in front of a child like this can encourage trust. What could be more enriching than exploring a problem together, and learning together? 

Besides that, it’s important to recognize that children do philosophy differently. They might only want to ponder big questions for short periods of time, and they often do so through art projects, science experiments, or dramatic role-play. Philosophy is still philosophy, even when it’s done with toys, books, and games.

 

Did the children ever surprised you with a question? Can you share that question with us?

I’m always surprised by questions children ask. They seem to get right at the heart of the matter, wondering why we exist, how they’re supposed to behave, and who decides what’s fair. Their answers surprise me even more. I once did a workshop in which an older child brought his preschool-aged sister. She spent most of the time running in circles, doodling with crayons, and giggling, and we assumed she wasn’t listening. But when we posed the question “What makes a human?” she blurted out “Love makes us human, silly!” and then went back to running and playing, like it was nothing. It took the discussion in a totally different direction, and it reminded me that even very young children can surprise us with their insights.

Damon Young: "(...) be honest. Don’t manufacture ideas or feelings. Give kids the benefit of your experiences and education. Oh, and don’t be afraid to laugh at the world and yourself."

Damon Young is an Australian philosopher and author. His eleven books of nonfiction and children’s fiction are published internationally in English and translation. His latest for adults is The Art of Reading. His latest for children is My Mum is a Magician. 

I met Damon on Twitter and I invited him to be a part of these interviews around P4C.

If you want to take a look at all the investigators and facilitators, all around the world, that have been sharing toughts about P4C, just take a look at this blog post

You can check out Damon's work at his website: www.damonyoung.com.au 

 

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Can you recall the first time you heard about philosophy for children (p4c)? 

 

Perhaps in around 2005? 

 

How did you started working with p4c?

 

I was a research fellow in aesthetics at the University of Melbourne, and part of my brief was working with art museums and galleries. Through this, I was often invited to work with high school students on art education. While the emphasis was on art appreciation, this led quite spontaneously to philosophical discussion: on what art is, for example, and what questions it prompts (e.g. ontological, ethical, political).

 

Do you think p4c is necessary to children? Why?

 

Yes, philosophy—as a practice, not as an academic specialisation—is vital for a good life. If we can’t ask basic questions about our existence, how can we live well and ethically? By introducing children to philosophy early, we give them two important things: the ability to ask these questions without being intimidated or muddled, and the ability to enjoy doing this. Philosophy is a means to the end of a better life, but it’s also an end in itself.

 

Nowadays children ( @ Portugal) have a lot of activities at school and after school. Why should we take philosophy to schools? 

 

Schools ought to teach philosophy for the reasons given above. But why schools? Two suggestions. First, because schools can provide a systematic syllabus, taught by professional educators. It might be that good teachers are better at introducing students to philosophy than academic professors. (Not the “might”. I’d like to see some evidence either way.)Teachers are also more likely to be sensitive to the various needs and contexts of students. Second, schools are one way to overcome poverty and marginalisation. Philosophy is often the province of the rich and educated, but schools can help to broaden access.

 

What makes a question a philosophical question – from a p4c point of view? 

 

My basic guide is this: will it help a child to question what’s taken-for-granted, with reason, goodwill, and an eye for evidence?

 

What’s the biggest challenge p4c faces, nowadays? 

 

For me, the greatest frustration is adults’ need to manage and control kids. Everything, including philosophy, becomes a kind of widget for producing obedient labourers.

 

Can you give the teachers and the parents some kind of advice to help them deal with the children’s questions? 

 

My only suggestion is to be honest. Don’t manufacture ideas or feelings. Give kids the benefit of your experiences and education. Oh, and don’t be afraid to laugh at the world and yourself.

 

Did the children ever surprised you with a question? Can you share that question with us? 

 

A little boy once asked me if Batman even wanted to be happy, and this struck me as psychologically very observant.

Zoran Kojcic: "Just as well as you train your body, you should train your mind – by reading, thinking, discussing, questioning, philosophizing."

Searchinf for #p4c, on Twitter, has helped me find so many people that dedicate their time doing, studying philsophy for children. The Lipman's program well knowed as P4C has been adapted and used with teenagers and even grown ups. Zoran Kojcic has been applying P4C with teenagers - and that's why I invited him to share some toughts with us.

 

First of all, a short bio so you can get to know Zoran: 

Zoran Kojcic (1986), philosopher and author, holds MA degrees in Philosophy and Croatian Philology from University of Osijek, Croatia. He is certified Philosophical Counsellor, board member of Petit Philosophy Association and member of Croatian Philosophical Association. Since 2011 Zoran teaches Literature and Ethics in high schools and also works as coordinator on several international projects. Zoran presented papers on more than 15 international conferences and published popular and scientific papers on Philosophy of Education and Philosophical Practice worldwide. Zoran is also the author of philosophical novel 'Walk through…' (Presing Publishing, 2014). He is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at Sofia University in Bulgaria, doing a research on philosophical counselling practice.

 

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And now, time for Q & A!

 

 

Can you recall the first time you heard about philosophy for children (p4c)?

 

I was introduced to P4C when I was studying for my Masters degree in Philosophy, in 2010, by my professor Bruno Curko from Croatia. He and some others have already formed Petit Philosophy, first association for P4C in Croatia and have already started implementing workshops in schools in 2009. In Croatia, students have Philosophy as a subject in high schools, but not in elementary schools, so this concept was really interesting to me at that time.

 

How did you started working with p4c?

 

Right after I graduated, in 2011, I started working in high school and also joined Petit Philosophy, which is also where I work until this day. We applied for many different projects and grants, mainly covering ethics and civil education, and we tried to combine philosophy with other subjects in schools. First bigger project I worked on combined philosophy with literature, art, music and film and it offered our students opportunity to explore all those approaches.

 

Do you think p4c is necessary to children? Why?

 

We still don't know whether it is necessary, but we have seen in practice that it offers them tools which later help them think for themselves and think more clearly. I can speak from experience that many students which are engaged in some form of P4C show broader understanding of issues in hand and more abilities in recognizing the problem, analyzing the situation and orienting themselves toward solutions, which often tend to be sustainable, empathic and rational. Tools which philosophy uses provide students with interesting skill set for the future and for variety of different professions as well as for more humane interactions with others within society.

 

Nowadays children ( @ Portugal) have a lot of activities at school and after school. Why should we take philosophy to schools?

 

An individual should develop itself as a whole person. This means development of both body and mind. We can take our kids to play tennis or football, but we should also make sure that they equally develop their minds. Lately, I am working on Foucault's and Ancient Greek concept of taking care of the self – firstly, Socrates spoke of this, Plato also, later Stoics and in contemporary philosophy Foucault reminds us that taking care of the self, of our own self means precisely this – one should work on oneself for his/her entire life and on both ends. Just as well as you train your body, you should train your mind – by reading, thinking, discussing, questioning, philosophizing.

 

What makes a question a philosophical question – from a p4c point of view?

 

Plato famously emphasized those questions which make us wonder as the beginning of philosophy. From children's point of view, majority of the world is still a big mystery, and adults often forget that, we forget how magical some routines are.

How do trains or mobile phones work, why the sky doesn't fall down or what drives the image in our cameras. Usually those questions which are yet to reveal something to us, something unknown or unclear, no matter that they might be obvious to others, those questions could instigate some crucial sparks in us, in what we are yet becoming, especially as children who are yet to grow up.

 

What’s the biggest challenge p4c faces, nowadays?

 

More locally speaking, in Croatia, we face two big issues. First, religious education and influence of the Church aren't that keen on introducing P4C to schools, just as well as the Government. We tried to offer it as an alternative to religious education in primary schools, but that probably won't ever happen. Second, influence of so called STEM subjects in high schools is big and it threatens to decrease number of humanities subjects, including philosophy.

On a more global level, we need to find better discourse which would introduce philosophy to schools, so that the children could engage in philosophical discussions and dialogue from early age. With right-wing on the rise in US and Europe, this seems really challenging.

 

Can you give the teachers and the parents some kid of advice to help them deal with the children's questions?

 

Never hide your own ignorance. Don't be that person who thinks they know everything. If children ask you a question and you don't know the answer, invite them to figure it out themselves, inspire them to investigate, motivate them to explore. In fact, let's make it as an advice also to politicians – instead of avoiding the answer when they don't know something, they should admit their ignorance. That's not a hard thing to do and people usually appreciate your honesty, just as the children do. Oh, and always motivate children to ask more and more questions!

 

Did the children ever surprised you with a question? Can you share that question with us?

Sure, they do that often. Few years ago I worked in a school, with children with special needs, but not in a really considerate school toward their class and their needs. It was first time for me, and some colleagues told me not to expect anything from them. As it turned out, they were quite interested in ethics. As we talked more and more, one student asked me how does a person become a philosopher. Surely, she asked the question for herself, for some reason she wanted to be a philosopher and to deal with all those questions we examined. It was a hard question for me to answer, knowing that in Croatia from special education class, she most probably couldn't become a philosopher in most regular academic way, not to mention that I was also shocked she even would consider of being one. Later we discussed that not all philosophers went to school, let alone obtained a degree.

When it comes to philosophy, you really don't need any school to tell you you're a philosopher, you can be lover of wisdom no matter what.

 

 

 

 

Kelly Cowling: "The best way to demystify philosophy is to get people doing philosophy together."

Through Twitter, I found Grey Havens Philosophy and reached out for contact, so that this collaborative work published in this blog could grow with their perspective about P4C. 

 

kelly ghp office.jpg

 

Kelly Cowling is the founder and Executive Director of Grey Havens Philosophy, a community philosophy nonprofit based in Longmont, Colorado. Grey Havens Philosophy's free programs include five ongoing philosophy discussion groups for ages 8-18. Our Philosophy in Public Spaces (PiPS) initiative is making intergenerational philosophy discussions part of the life of our community. 

 

Can you recall the first time you heard about philosophy for children (p4c)?

I first heard about Philosophy for Children when I took my first class with Ron Reed at Texas Wesleyan University in the early 90s. Up to that point, my experience with education had not been good. I wasn’t particularly interested in becoming an educator back then, but I waspreoccupied with figuring out how education could be better than it had been for me.

 

How did you started working with p4c?

Through a non-traditional route. In 2010, I started a chapter-by-chapter book discussion group for adults in the back room of a locally-owned bookstore. Over time, it became quite popular and expanded into a network of book groups, a small symposium, and other events. People seemed to get a lot of meaning and fulfilment out of the gatherings. I suspected that it was because I had been facilitating discussions using what I knew of P4C.

In 2013, I and a few others partnered with our local library to establish a weekly philosophy group for 6th-12thgraders. Now, Grey Havens Philosophy is a non-profit organization that partners with our city, libraries throughout the region, other nonprofits, and businesses to bring philosophy to as many public spaces as possible.

I would call what we do P4C-inspired, rather than strictly P4C. We are always learning at the same time as we are teaching volunteers to do what we do.  Our facilitators get together every month to practice their skills with each other and reflect on what goes on in discussions. We involve our young people in this process as well. We don’t know how this will impact how we do things in five, ten, twenty years.

 

Do you think p4c is necessary to children? Why?

I think regular access to a healthy community of inquiry is important if we want our children to thrive. We now have teens who are beginning their fifth year of weekly philosophy discussions, and we have graduates of our programs who always seem to find their way back to our discussions when they are home from school during breaks. Being members of a thinking community has become an important part of their identities. While we are still working to evaluate the long-term impact of our programs using both objective and subjective measures, I can tell you what we see happening.

Our participants bring all of their experiences into discussions, including what they learn at school, at home, from friends, from popular culture, and on the internet. They learn how alike yet different their experiences are from those of their peers. They become proficient in asking questions about their experiences then finding the questions that underlie those questions. They tell us that they do this on their own, with friends and family, and that (with varying degrees of success) they raise philosophical questions in class, but they recognize that they do some of their best thinking when they come together in a community that exists for that purpose.

 Our young people have also become comfortable exploring the same big questions again and again and again. Two weeks after declaring that he would not discuss the nature of human consciousness yet again, a thirteen-year-old participant asked, “What is consciousness, anyway?” That participant is now sixteen and still happily diving into the question of consciousness.

There are several things happening here that we expect to serve our participants as they grow up:

  • An understanding that quality thinking requires the ability to synthesize information from multiple sources and the ability to evaluate sources
  • An understanding that thinking can be most productive and fulfilling when it is done in community
  • An understanding that asking questions can both accomplish what we need it to at any given time and that there are always questions beyond those questions
  • The experience of, as one eleven-year-old participant put it, “watching our minds grow.” Thinking about thinking helps young people to recognize that they are in control of how they learn. It helps them to develop a habit of self-reflection that improves emotional regulation and decision-making. It helps them to better evaluate the thinking of others and affords them the joy of marvelling at their own growth.

Our hope is that kids who grow up in thinking communities like ours will become workers who are good at collaborating to solve problems and who find satisfaction in their work because they are able to reflect on why they are doing it. We want them to grow up to be citizens who are able to recognize injustice, who are better at deciphering the statements and intentions of those with power, and who enjoy being engaged and engaging others in democracy. We want them to be individuals and family members who derive more satisfaction from their relationships because they think about the value and meaning of human interactions. There are lots of ways to cultivate these qualities, but philosophy is a comprehensive approach that can be practiced as a way of life.  We advocate introducing children to the philosophical way of life as early as possible.

  

Nowadays children ( @ Portugal) have a lot of activities at school and after school. Why should we take philosophy to schools?

 All of the benefits I have described above are excellent reasons to integrate philosophical thinking in school curricula, but we don’t think we skipped a step by establishing our programs outside of schools. Just as a young person might identify as an athlete, musician, or dancer, because they belong to an organization where they improve their skills through practice, our participants identify as deep thinkers because they are part of an organization where they practice thinking. They get to participate in thinking with people of all generations in many different settings. Our young people are as comfortable thinking with the adults from our local Senior Center as they are thinking with each other. They get to see that adults take their ideas seriously and regard them as co-inquirers.

 

What makes a question a philosophical question – from a p4c point of view?

 We train our facilitators to listen closely to what participants are saying so that they can identify the potential for questions related to the branches of philosophy—questions about knowing, being, ethics, power, beauty, and ultimate reality. It’s a skill that they can only develop with guidance and practice.

We encourage our participants to look at external reference points to answer questions then, as the discussion progresses, we typically move to questions that are less and less answerable through external reference points. In one way or another, we often end up asking ourselves if we can really know anything.

 If epistemological questions were the only valid philosophical questions, however, we wouldn’t get very far. Instead, we try to recognize that most questions contain underlying questions that can’t be answered with an external reference point. We enjoy exploring the bigger philosophical questions, but we also appreciate the process of uncovering them. Every question along the way matters because we still have to make practical and ethical decisions even when we question the fundamental nature of reality.

The most important thing is for the group to be able to retrace their steps in a discussion and identify the kinds of questions they were asking and the kinds of thinking they were doing. Participants and facilitators derive satisfaction and pleasure from seeing how the group reasons from the concrete to the abstract. They get good at doing it and at seeing when and how abstract ideas should inform actions. If the goal of a philosophy discussion is to engender some kind of change in thinking and even in action, then it is as important to ask participants about how they are thinking as it is to ask them what they think.

 

What’s the biggest challenge p4c faces, nowadays?

I don’t know much about the challenges P4C faces worldwide, but I know that we struggle against perceptions that what we do is only for people with a certain aptitude. That is why outreach is an extremely important part of what we do.

The best way to demystify philosophy is to get people doing philosophy together. It is also vital that we establish our groups as safe, inclusive spaces where young people can be themselves even if they don’t feel welcome in other places. This requires continuous attention and care.

Non-profit organizations like ours also live and die by the funds we can raise. Our biggest supporters are those who have directly benefited from our work, either as individuals or families. Our challenge as we grow will be to show those who have not directly benefited that “thinking about thinking” is a marketable skill that will measurably improve the lives of our participants and the life of society.

 

Can you give the teachers and the parents some kid of advice to help them deal with the children’s questions?  Accept influence from children. Let go of the idea that you are supposed to have answers. Let go of any preconceived ideas you have about the kinds of questions children are capable of exploring. Let kids see your own curiosity. The beauty of philosophy discussions is that a facilitator is also a participant. Make sure they know that you are all in this together.

I also suggest encouraging children to identify all of the kinds of information they would need to truly answer a question to their satisfaction then heading off in the direction that interests everyone the most. Give the kids responsibility for making sure this process is a democratic one.

 Thinking about a question such as, “Why do I need to study math?” might begin with easy answers such as “to manage your money,” or “to qualify for a career in a STEM field,” but it can lead to lots of fascinating questions about things like economic models, the value and meaning of technology, why society values some jobs more than others, what math and poetry might have in common in describing the universe, knowledge for the sake of knowledge, the relationship between models and reality, and whether or not numbers are real. Often the question you start with will lead back to other questions that were raised in the beginning.

Help the group pay attention to how the discussion progresses, and retrace your steps when necessary. Don’t worry if the discussion doesn’t address every potential question that comes up. If you have these discussions regularly, you will find that questions will come up again and again, giving the group opportunities to think about them in new ways.

 

Did the children ever surprised you with a question? Can you share that question with us?

We went into this believing that children are deep thinkers so, while I can say that their questions have delighted me, I can’t say that they have surprised me. In our early days, I did experience more anxiety than I do now about participants who speak up less frequently or rarely at all. Not only have we noticed that most participants speak up more as time goes on, we have found that their fiction, poetry, drawings, and notes indicate that they had been thinking with us all along. We check in with participants and their family members at individual conferences so we often get to see how families become their own communities of inquiry. We are very privileged to remain connected to these families over the years. I suppose we never stop being surprised by how our kids grow into their roles as philosophers. You would think we would have learned by now!

 

 

 

Sabine Yang: "Wonder should be the core capacity that we human should always treasure."

I met Sabine Yang on facebook. Social media has been such a great tool to find and to talk about P4C with investigators, teachers, facilitators all over the world. Yang Yanlu (Sabine Yang) is from China; she's a Ph.D candidate from the department of Philosophy at ZheJiang University, major in German Philosophy. From 2013 till now, Sabine Yang is doing P4C at Kindergarten, Primary School, Bookstores, Libraries and other public places.

 

sabine_yang

 

Can you recall the first time you heard about philosophy for children (p4c)?

I was a little bit astonished and at the same time very curious about it. At that time I was doing my Master of Philosophy and I encountered a Chinese book about p4c, then I got to know there was a thing called p4c and started to practice it.

 

How did you started working with p4c?

It was not easy to carry out this programm, since I was only a student and it was hard for me to find the kids. But later with the help of the community near my home, I organized a non-profit activity of p4c in my community. Even though there were few kids,maybe 3 or 4 at that time, we started to read the picturebook of Arnold Lobel, that was Frog and Toad, very dramatical story. The theme we discussed  was Bravery. Kids were very fascinated with the story and after reading the story they began to share their experience of bravery. Then we went to some deeper question, like should the bravery be afraid of nothing, what is bravery on the earth? That was my first p4c class, it was very interesting experience.

 

Do you think p4c is necessary to children? Why?

Definitely. We are facing the Artificial Intelligence Age, many people’s job will be later replaced by the machines. I was always wondering what could not be replace by AI. Yet the power of Wonder and the capacity to raise question belongs to human mind. P4C encourage children to raise their own questions and let them wonder about all the things they feel interested. As Aristotle once said: Man is desired to know. Wonder should be the core capacity that we human should always treasure.

 

Nowadays children (@ Portugal) have a lot of activities at school and after school. Why should we take philosophy to schools?

Philosophy at schools are probably good to the reform of curriculum. In traditional classes, children have not so much freedom to raise their own questions and mostly they have to answer the question which they may be not so interested in. If a class of Math can combine some p4c elements, then the children could be better motivated to find the question and figure out by cooperation. Besides inter-curriculum, the sole p4c class is also benefit to the children, since they are quite relaxing in such kind of atmosphere, staying in circle and enjoying the place of intellectural and emotional safety.

 

What makes a question a philosophical question – from a p4c point of view?

A philosophical question is a big question which could not be answered in the framework of science or any empirical study. Such question have no final answer and only a temporary reply. A philosophical question is open to all the people,no matter how old they are. Everyone has the right to think about it and find the meaning of their own.

 

What’s the biggest challenge p4c faces, nowadays?

I recognized the biggest question lying in the training of teachers. We’ve seen lot of teachers willing to change their pedagogical methods when the way of teacing are  implanted by p4c. But it’s still hard to make this change since we face the stress of established teaching objectivities and other rules in school. P4C pursuits the uncertainty of answer, which will be a conflict to a world, which is based on right answer  in the exam-oriented education.

 

Can you give the teachers and the parents some kind of advice to help them deal with the children’s questions?

When you hear about children’s question,you don’t have to reply at once. You should first examine the question: Is it a question that we could find the answer from google or any other books? Then just help them to  find them. If you realised that it was a big question like philosophical question, you can encourage the children to anwer first and then you discuss with them. Children’s questions are very diversed,sometimes adults would feel at a loss or embarrassed, sometimes even annoyed, but that’s quite normal. We can’t answer all the questions and not all the questions has the ultimate answer.

 

Did the children ever surprised you with a question? Can you share that question with us?

Yes, they surprise me all the time. For example, last Friday when we talked about “Share”, a young boy asked the whole class: Shall we share the death? Then one of the  student answered: I’d like to share, but I don’t wanna die! I also don’t wanna you die! Then replied the young boy: But we have to die. That question did make stress to us, and the students I observed were not happy anymore. Maybe it’s the time to deal with the thinking of death next class.

Carlos Carvalho: "(...) é necessário haver um espaço no qual a criança aprenda a refletir."

O Carlos foi um dos meus companheiros de viagem no 1º ano do mestrado de Filosofia para Crianças e Jovens, na Universidade dos Açores (na altura Pós-Graduação, ainda). 

É licenciado em Filosofia, Ramo Educacional, Mestre em Psicologia (Contextos Educativos), e pós-graduado em Filosofia para Crianças, pela Universidade dos Açores.

Possui vasta experiência no ensino, quer profissional, quer regular, desde a leccionação e coordenação, passando, igualmente, pela Direcção Técnico-Pedagógica, enquanto Director Pedagógico, em 2005-2006, na Escola Profissional Monsenhor João Maurício de Amaral Ferreira. Tem também experiência acumulada em diversos Programas de Ensino, tendo como público-alvo adolescentes e adultos, tais como Profij (II e IV) e Reativar, incluindo leccionação no Estabelecimento Prisional de Ponta Delgada, e coordenação do Programa Erasmus +.

O Carlos vive rodeado de azul e verde, de ilha em ilha, no magnífico arquipélago dos Açores. Foi precisamente neste contexto, da Pós-Graduação, que o Carlos teve a sua primeira experiência enquanto facilitador. 

 

carlos_carvalho

 

 

Lembras-te da primeira vez que ouviste falar de filosofia para crianças?

Não exactamente. Provavelmente, com consciência, há volta de 10 anos…. 2007, 2008.

 

Como é que começaste a trabalhar nesta àrea?

 A primeira sessão conduzida por mim foi no âmbito da Pós-Graduação que fiz, na Universidade dos Açores, em “Filosofia para Crianças”.

 

Consideras que a fpc é necessária para as crianças? Porquê?

Sim, muito importante. Provavelmente a minha resposta não traz nada de novo perante o que as autoridades na matéria dizem, mas defendo que é importante porque é necessário haver um espaço no qual a criança aprenda a refletir. As tecnologias trouxeram fontes infinitas de informação, em quantidades que eram inimagináveis nos meus tempos de criança. No entanto, essa informação não é tratada, mas sim tratada de uma forma descartável: “play”, “vejo”, “termino”, carrego imediatamente “num próximo play”. Aliás, esta é uma sequência comportamental que é já um padrão da educação das nossas crianças, sem qualquer momento de análise.

 

Hoje em dia as crianças, em Portugal, têm muitas actividades na escolar e depois da escola. Por que havemos de levar a filosofia para as escolas?

Devemos levar a Filosofia para as escolas pela razão que acima apresentei. Mas é uma questão que, em termos práticos, não é fácil de materializar. De facto, as crianças têm muitas atividades, na escola, e depois da escola. Parece que é um mal socialmente reconhecido, assente, não havendo tempo para o chamado “tempo para ser criança”. Por outro, quando ouvimos os professores de cada área correspondente a essas atividades, parece que faz todo o sentido incluir essas atividades…… O mesmo se passará com a Filosofia.

 

O que faz com que uma pergunta seja uma questão filosófica – do ponto de vista da fpc?

Em relação à Filosofia para Crianças, não creio que haja, ou não creio que deva haver, diferença ou cedência de requisitos para que uma questão seja Filosófica. Tal como na “Filosofia Adulta”, as questões filosóficas na “FPC” também deverão ser “existenciais e valorativas”; “não podem ter solução científica ou técnica”; “não podem ser questões de facto” e “devem ultrapassar o domínio da legalidade”.

 

Quais são os maiores desasfios que a Fpc enfrenta, nos nossos dias?

Enfrenta o preconceito generalizado que as pessoas e o sistema de educação têm em relação à Filosofia: a Filosofia não serve para nada.

 

Podes dar alguns conselhos aos professores e aos pais para os ajudar a lidar com as perguntas das crianças?

1º) Nunca ignorar as questões das crianças;

2º) Dar valor a cada questão formulada.

 

Alguma vez foste surpreendido com uma pergunta de uma criança? Podes partilhar connosco que pergunta foi essa?

 Provavelmente sim, mas, depois de pensar muito nessa questão, não há nenhuma em particular que me ocorra.

 

 

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