Meeting Registration

Please register to attend the SOPHIA Network Meeting at the University of Crete in Rethymnon on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd September 2016.

This year we are working in partnership with the Department of Philosophy and Social Studies and the theme is:

FROM ANCIENT GREECE TO THE MODERN CURRICULUM: WHERE DOES PHILOSOPHY FIT?

To see the workshops and presentations on offer this year please visit our 2016 Crete Workshops page.

As usual we are keeping the price as low as we possibly can to make it easier for people to attend. The Network Meeting is only €15 for the two days – in order to attend you need to be or become a member for our minimum period of a year, this is €35.

For more on our membership rates visit our Join Sophia page.

Crete Accommodation

The University of Crete at Rethymnon (where we are holding the meeting) has a Guest House we can book. If you are interested in this please let Emma know (emma@philosophy-foundation.org). There are about 10 or 11 rooms, one of which has a wonderful view to the sea but is rather noisy). The bathroom facilities are very basic, but en suite and clean. Price 26 euros for a single, with breakfast. Double is around 35, I think, but rooms have only double beds (no twins)

Hotel Ideon is right next to the guest house, more luxurious, quite nice, with a swimming pool, on the waterfront but not on the part where you can swim. In the past Chloe, who is working with us from the University, has organized successful events combining the two venues, since that gave people a way to spend more time together (the guest house also has a lovely seminar room which anybody can use).

Prices for very few rooms that are left (no sea view, but this means they will be more quiet) is 67 for the single and 92 for the double, with a 10% discount, when you mention that you are coming for a University event: ideon@otenet.gr. Also this is right next to the old town, so people can hang out without having to use cars or buses. Public transportation to the University is very easy.

Prices in euros, provided you book directly with them (needless to say). https://www.facebook.com/ideonhotel/

There is also the option of the big hotels by the sea, the disadvantage there being that you have to use a car to go back and forth to the town.

Or you could try airbnb

Karel and the birth of Philosophy with Children

By Pieter Mostert

Karel after receiving his PhD in 1988

Karel after receiving his PhD in 1988

Karel and I met for the first time in September 1976. I was a master student in philosophy, he was one of the lecturers. One of his colleagues asked me whether I was interested in becoming his teaching assistant. There were hundreds of students in social science that had to be pushed through the obligatory philosophy course and he simply wasn’t motivated to do that any longer. I had been studying philosophy for five years and had slowly but gradually figured out what it was about. And coming from a teaching family I had an interested in teaching. So I got the job and decided that it might be useful to sign up for the course “teaching philosophy outside academia”, which was offered by Karel, as he was the only member of staff with experience in teaching philosophy outside the university (he taught philosophy in a professional programme for social work). I shared my plans and experiences. Karel’s feedback was always sharp and without any compromise, not very practical, but definitely helpful. It made me think better.

Study prize for best dissertation of the Erasmus Foundation (1989). Karel is on the right side, Pieter left of the middle; the man in the middle is Prince Bernhard, the father of Queen Beatrix.

Study prize for best dissertation of the Erasmus Foundation (1989). Karel is on the right side, Pieter left of the middle; the man in the middle is Prince Bernhard, the father of Queen Beatrix.

In 1978 I finished my studies and started teaching in several professional programmes: social work, nursing, library. In those years I looked around for different approaches and teaching methods. Karel and I met rarely. That changed in 1980, when I was appointed to a teaching position at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam similar to his at the University of Amsterdam. Early 1981 we sat together for an outline of a joint research project, which would lead to a PhD, which we finished in 1988. My first contribution to the research project was a literary review: what is going on in different countries, what is the dominant approach and what literature is available. It struck us how national traditions were: in the Netherlands philosophy was mainly taught in a ‘propaedeutic’ way, in Germany it was mainly devoted to reading selected texts from famous philosophers, in France it was devoted to essay writing, and so on.

Karel receiving his PhD in 1988

Karel receiving his PhD in 1988

From all we read two initiatives immediately stood out for us and caught our interest: it was the German tradition of ‘Socratic dialogue’, developed within the school of Leonard Nelson and the materials of Matthew Lipman and his IAPC, creating opportunities for children to engage with philosophical questions. Why?

First of all, it was both Karel’s and my personal experience that at university you may study philosophy and learn a lot about philosophy, but you learn very little about the doing of philosophy. Therefore teaching philosophy outside academia is mainly done through a simplified, watered down version of what is taught at university. Our favourite comparison was tea and teabags: when the philosophy programme at university is like the first cup of tea from a fresh tea bag, the programme outside university may be the third of fourth cup of tea from that same teabag: tasteless.

Both of us were struck, appalled by the tastelessness of philosophy programmes. And we were convinced that the only way to bring back the flavour is by practising the ‘doing’ of philosophy. For us, both the practice of the Socratic dialogue and P4C were encouraging and challenging attempts to practise the doing of philosophy.

But there was more. For me, by that time, doing philosophy should be practised in the questioning style of Socrates and Nietzsche, best summarized in the rule “before we start answering the question we should first enquire whether this is the real (philosophical) question”. For Karel what’s at stake in philosophy was slightly different. His main interest was in Chinese philosophy, not the popular westernized version from the seventies – few things could irritate him more than glorifications of eastern philosophy by reducing them to some westernized mish-mash – but careful reading of classical texts, with all the source books and commentaries on the table. Karel in his own medieval monastery cell – that is where philosophy is done and where it develops. The distance from here to philosophy for children may seem vast, but for him it wasn’t. At least, as long as philosophy for children is devoted to the same scrutiny of concepts and categories. More bluntly said: as long as teachers avoid the mistake which many people make when reading about Chinese philosophy, namely that they read their own concepts into it, whether it is the Chinese philosophical text or the children’s expressions of their thoughts.

Karel mastered the skill of introducing an example or comparison at the right moment and let this example do the work of convincing the listeners. One day, when we were discussing what P4C should be about, he said “Pieter, don’t you know Borges’ story about the classification of the emperor of China?”. No, I didn’t, and when I read the story later that week I knew why Karel was devoted to studying Chinese philosophy and to developing philosophy for children: It’s about categories, how arbitrary they are and how hesitant we should be in assuming that our categories are correct and universal, because they make sense to us [Borges’ story is called “Celestial emporium of benevolent knowledge”; I would say: obligatory reading!].

In 1990 Karel and I took the initiative to found a Dutch Centre for Philosophy for Children. Shortly after we were approached by a group of educational consultants, who were developing a school programme to address bullying at schools. They wanted to hear from us what philosophy can do to prevent bullying. Karel’s reply was as clear and without compromise as always: all we can do is facilitate conversations with children in which we explore the category of bullying and related categories. P4C was born and it immediately showed its stubborn identity.

In 2013 Karel gave his final SOPHIA talk at our meeting in Amsterdam on the theme of ‘Diversity’.


Karel van der Leeuw born 1940 deceased 2015. Much missed by the SOPHIA & P4C Community.

SOPHIA is holding an annual memorial prize for Karel, for details on how to enter to win €500 visit the Karel van der Leeuw Memorial Prize page of our website.

SOPHIA 2016: Crete

We are delighted to announce that our next meeting is being held at the University of Crete in partnership with the Department of Philosophy and Social Studies at the beginning of September.

The theme this year is:

From Ancient Greece to the Modern Curriculum: where does philosophy fit?

And we currently have a call for proposals open (closing date May 1st) – for more please visit our next meeting page.

As usual we are keeping the price as low as we possibly can to make it easier for people to attend. The Network Meeting is only €15 for the two days – in order to attend you need to be or become a member for our minimum period of a year, this is €35. For more on our membership rates visit our Join Sophia page.

The dates for the meeting have been agreed as Friday 2nd September and Saturday 3rd September.

See you then!

 

New Board Members

We would like to welcome Rob Bartels (Netherlands) as our new Treasurer, Joos Vollebregt (Belgium) as our new Secretary and Grace Robinson (England) as a new Board Member.

You can see our full Board and their associations on this page of our website.

 

A Brief History of SOPHIA

A Brief History of Stichting SOPHIA from 1993 to the establishment of the SOPHIA Network 2006, by Dr Catherine McCall, former President of SOPHIA.

At the 2015 SOPHIA Network and Board Meeting in Antwerp  I noticed that new members and some older members were not aware of the history of Stichting SOPHIA prior to the establishment of the SOPHIA Network. So here is a very brief outline of the foundation from 1993 when SOPHIA was composed of the Board of the Stichting (Foundation)  to 2006 when the SOPHIA Network was established by adding Regulations to the constitution. (This is written from memory so may need some corrections).

1993 Stichting SOPHIA established by Karel van der Leeuw registered at the University of Amsterdam

  • President –  Eulalia Bosch , Grup IREF (Barcelona, Catalonia)
  • Secretary  – Karel van der Leeuw, Dean of Philosophy University of Amsterdam (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)
  • Treasurer – Robert Pilat, Polish Academy of Sciences (Warsaw, Poland)

1994 First Meeting of the Board of Stichting SOPHIA in the University of Amsterdam.

  • Berrie Heesen added as Adviser to the Board
  • In order to allow Roger Sutcliff and Karin Murris to join SOPHIA, Catherine McCall suggests splitting the UK into 3 nations – Scotland, England and Wales. Board decides to count nations rather than states in SOPHIA allows e.g. both Catalonia and Spain

1995 Second Meeting of the Board of Stichting SOPHIA in the University of Amsterdam

  • Karel van der Leeuw became both Secretary and Treasurer
  • Project 100 begun
  • PECA Project begun

1996 Third Meeting of the Board of Stichting SOPHIA in Glasgow University, Scotland

1998 Fourth Meeting of the Board of Stichting SOPHIA  in the Catholic University of Lisbon, Portugal

2004 (March) Fifth Meeting of the Board of Stichting SOPHIA at the University of Graz, Austria

  • Karel van der Leeuw informs the Board of resignation as Secretary and Treasurer
  • Roger Sutcliff, Chair of SAPERE, England  Acting  Secretary (March); Radmila Sutton becomes Secretary (June)
  • Karel van der Leeuw becomes the first Honorary Board member and continues as SOPHIA bank account holder

2004 (November) Sixth Meeting of the Board of Stichting SOPHIA at Oxford Brookes University, England

  • Eulalia Bosch becomes the second and Roger Sutcliff becomes the third Honorary Board members
  • Menon and Almatheia project proposals begun
  • Decision made to change basis of SOPHIA from one Board member per nation (28 Board members) to smaller Board of 11
  • Decision made to change basis of SOPHIA from one Board member per nation to a Network of individual members through which the new Board of  SOPHIA will fulfill its aims and objectives
  • Decision made to change annual membership fee of SOPHIA from 120 Euros to 20 euros
  • Ed Weijers , Radmila Sutton and Catherine McCall to investigate legal constitutional method of creating a SOPHIA Network

2005 Seventh Meeting of the Board of  Stichting SOPHIA in … Hotel , St Paul’s Bay, Malta

….  Ed Weijers ratified as Treasurer (?)

2006 (Jan) Eighth Extraordinary Meeting of the Board of  Stichting SOPHIA in the Philosophy Hotel, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

  • 17 SOPHIA Board members resign
  • SOPHIA Board votes in the new Regulations to create the SOPHIA Network

2006 (May) Ninth Meeting of the Board of  Stichting SOPHIA and First Meeting of the SOPHIA Network in Strathclyde University, Glasgow, Scotland.

  • Board draws up a Resignation Schedule for SOPHIA Board members to stand down after 4 years service such as all Board members do not resign at once
  • Decision made to hold a SOPHIA Network Meeting every year
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Ways into Philosophy

Introduction to SOPHIA Network Meeting 2014, Zagreb Peter Worley, President

“For many, philosophy is impenetrable. It is often thought to be, among other things, dense, difficult and dry. To these detractors the idea of taking something as abstract and difficult as philosophy to children must seem absurd.

One way around this is to redefine philosophy so that it is simply no longer dense, difficult and dry. Something broad like ‘an open-ended discussion’ might be an example of this kind of re-definition.

Alternatively, one may take the so-called ‘dense, difficult and dry’ literature (in other words, the philosophical canon) as the starting point and then attempt to find ‘ways in’ to it. This is my preferred way of tackling the problem of the impenetrability of philosophy and the doing of philosophy with children.

On a personal note, providing young people with a way into philosophy is not just about a way into philosophy but also a way (for me, back) into education. Becoming interested in the problem of the nature of numbers is also becoming interested in maths; becoming interested in the philosophy of religion can lead to an interest in the philosophy of science which can (and did me) spark an interest in science.

One reason why I set up The Philosophy Foundation, and also why I am honoured to take up the presidency of SOPHIA, is because I believe philosophy has the power to bring those who find themselves at a distance from education, or at its edges, back into it. After failing school and subsequently leaving education it was through an interest in literature and through exploring religious questions that I discovered philosophy. My interest in philosophy then brought me back into education and at the age of 24 I went to university to study philosophy.”

In our resources section for members you can read Peter’s full introduction to the weekend, which includes ideas about philosophical controversy, helping a class towards the controversy and assessing progress, as well as seeing the film mentioned in this blog. His workshop on different ways into philosophy includes narrative / storytelling; experience, exercises, games, sci-fi, interactive imagination, poetry, visual, auditory and kinaesthetic sessions, children’s literature (both novels and picture books) Shakespeare, physicalisation and drama which can also be found in this paper.

Our resources section also contains papers / workshops / presentations from workshop leaders in Zagreb. Workshops in Zagreb included:

  • Andy West (England) Kinaesthetic Learners
  • Tina Marasovic (Croatia) Graffiti: Philosophizing in Art
  • Mary Bovill (Scotland) Philosophy in the Secondary Curriculum
  • Laura Blažeti? Faller (Croatia) “Blind Bat” Game
  • Milosh Jeremic (Serbia) Wandering Test
  • Grace Robinson (England) Philosophical Enquiry in Role
  • Ed Weijers (Netherlands) Structure & Dynamics
  • Ilse Daems (Belgium) Philosophy Games
  • Renate Kroschel (Germany) What is a Soul?
  • Peter Worley (England) Many Ways into Philosophy
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Peter Worley TEDx Talks

How To Be A Rebel

TEDx KCS June 2014 – click here to view on YouTube

 

Plato Not Playdoh

TEDx Goodenough College May 2014, click here to view on YouTube

 

Using Poetry for Philosophical Enquiries

By Peter Worley

When National Poetry Day and World Poetry Day come around each year I like to use poetry for all my philosophy sessions where possible. I usually write some more Thoughtings and a blog. This year I have got a little over-excited about poetry. Because I love it! So this is the second blog on poetry which follows on from my previous blog post ‘Why Poetry? Because it is like the TARDIS…’

Something similar to what follows can be found in the appendices at the back of Thoughtings together with a sample lesson plan around one particular Thoughting. The poems in that collection have been written specifically to do philosophy with, however philosophy can also be done with many other poems not written to do philosophy. With that in mind, I’ve put this together for anyone who wishes to start using poetry as a starting stimulus for doing philosophy but who lacks the confidence (or a procedure) to do so. This is only a guideline so the word to bear in mind is ‘variation’ – play around with this structure to best fit your aims, your class or group and your poem. All the poems mentioned here can be found by following the links in my previous blog ‘Why Poetry?…’

Read more

[Read more…]

A Decade of European Thought

by Goedele De Swaef

As coordinator of the European Socrates-Comenius TAXI project (School Development Project forthe Advancement of Philosophy with Children) I think it would be interesting to present the history of our European Projects, viz. Thought Castle (1995-1998), the 100 Journal (1998-2001) and Taxi (2001-2004) and of course the history of the 100 Journal itself (i.e. the European Philosophy Journal of Children), a journal that was published during all those years.

  1. Sophia

In 1992, in Barcelona, people from different European Centres of Philosophy with Children set up SOPHIA, a European Foundation for Philosophical Inquiry with Children. This foundation was formally registered in Amsterdam in 1993, where it was connected to the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Amsterdam.

SOPHIA was set up to establish a network within Europe of organizations and persons committed to the implementation of philosophising inside educational institutes. Most of these centres started translating one or more of Lipman’s stories and manuals.

The 100-journal was meant to be one of the first concrete projects of SOPHIA, but it became an independent project called Thought Castle sponsored by the Socrates-Comenius action 1 for primary education.

  1. Socrates-Comenius

Socrates is a European programme for education. Its aim is to promote the European dimension and to improve the quality of education by encouraging cooperation between the participating countries.

The programme sets out to develop a Europe of knowledge and thus to better cater for the major challenges of this new century: to promote lifelong learning, to encourage access to education for everyone, to acquire qualifications and recognised skills.

The overall objectives of Comenius (one of the actions of Socrates) are to enhance the quality and reinforce the European dimension of school education, in particular by encouraging transnational cooperation between schools, by contributing to the improved professional development of staff directly involved in the school education sector, and by promoting the learning of languages and intercultural awareness.

Comenius seeks to help those learning and teaching in schools, to develop a sense of belonging to a broader and outward-looking European community – a community characterised by diverse traditions, cultures and regional identities, but nevertheless rooted in a common history of European development.

Comenius contributes to enhancing the quality of school education and to reinforcing its European dimension by:

  • promoting trans-national cooperation and exchanges between schools and teacher training programmes/institutions;
  • encouraging innovation in pedagogical methods and materials;
  • promoting the trans-national dissemination of “good practice” and innovation in school management;
  • developing and disseminating methods for combating educational exclusion and school failure, for promoting the integration of pupils with special educational needs, and for promoting equal opportunities in all sectors of education;
  • promoting the use of information and communication technology in school education and in the training of staff working in this sector.
  1. The 100 Journal

 The idea for a journal was born at the Sophia meeting in Barcelona. Berrie Heesen from the Dutch Centre of Philosophy with Children came up with the idea of a journal for children philosophising, as a continuation of a journal that once existed in Poland, i.e. the Little Review.

During the twenties this was a journal for children that was set up by Janusz Korczak, who was a Polish pedagogue and director of an orphanage in Warsaw, Poland. The journal, the Little Review, had an editorial board with children aged between 8 and 14. Children from all over Poland every month travelled by train to Warsaw (sometimes more than 500 km) to meet with the editorial board of the Little Review, which would appear every Friday as a supplement to a daily Jewish newsletter called Our Review.

The name ‘100’ was chosen because a number can function as a logo in the different languages. It was complicated to find a word, even a new word, that was acceptable in all these languages, so finally a number was chosen as title. Numbers are, at least in Europe, all written the same but pronounced differently. This seemed to be a good combination of what Europe is: unity in diversity. Of course, children are aware of the great quantity of numbers that exist, so why specifically the number 100? The explanation of the title was printed on the cover of the first issue:

“There is a beautiful story why this journal is called 100. The story is about a man who lived in Poland before World War Two. His name is Janusz Korczak.

Korczak was director of an orphanage in Poland. He was also editor and organizer of a weekly Polish journal for children with a real children’s editorial board. Korczak was convinced that children were not enough respected and appreciated. He was convinced they were not taken seriously. He did not like this. Therefore he started a children’s journal with writings of children themselves. There was a boy called Alexander Ramati, nine yers old, who travelled several times a year a few hundred kilometres by train to be present at the children’s editorial meetings.

But why number 100?

It’s like this. In the orphanage of Korczak existed a tribunal that had to judge about all the problems among children. This tribunal existed of five child judges who were chosen every month by all the children of the orphanage. Korczak said: ‘This tribunal is not justice, but it strives for justice.’ Everybody who thought he or she was treated unfair was able to lay down a charge. And about the judges said Korczak: ‘Judges can make mistakes. They may punish for acts they themselves are guilty of. But it is shameful if a judge consciously hands down an unjust verdict.’ The tribunal just pronounced an article from a list of a thousand articles. The first article said: ‘Charge is withdrawn.’ Article 100 was the dividing line between forgiveness and censure. Article 100 said: ‘Without granting pardon, the court states that you committed the act with which you are charged.’ Children charged even Korczak himself. The worst punishment Korzak ever got from this tribunal was article 100. To keep this story alive of a man who organized a children’s tribunal and a children’s journal, this journal is called: 100. It is a European Doing Philosophy With Children journal.

To download Goedele’s full paper on Ten Years of European Thought go to our Resources page.

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