Welcoming Talk Crete 2016

SOPHIA: opening remarks

SOPHIA Network Meeting 2nd of September, 2016, Rethymno

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

Welcoming address:

“Where does philosophy fit?

I’ll begin by saying: philosophy resists ‘fit’. If you look for philosophy you’ll find it where you find, among other things, aporia, confusion, difficulty, paradox. It may not ‘fit’ anywhere, but it has a role. And maybe the role is informed by its lack of ‘fit’. Philosophy is something of an unwelcome guest at a party, an awkward, difficult child in a classroom, an ugly, brutal truth at a wedding.

I prefer to talk about philosophy’s reach. In the beginning ‘philosophy’ captured all learning and included geometry, mathematics, rhetoric, cosmology, physics, metaphysics, biology and more. And though each of these subjects has become, in the classroom anyway, independent of philosophy, philosophy still secures a corner for itself in each despite attempts to shake it off. When an historian asks, ‘What exactly is an historical fact?’ or ‘What exactly is knowledge of the past?’ and ‘What is the past?’ they are asking philosophical questions. Or if a scientist asks, ‘Does the notion of ‘before time’ make sense?’ or ‘How can we represent an object such as an atom if it cannot be observed?’ and ‘Can such a representation be accurate?’ they too are asking philosophical questions. And though they may be an historian or a scientist, they are philosophising. In most if not all subjects, any student of the subject will at some point fall into a ‘philosophical hole’ that the subject has been unable to remove, fill in or cover up. So, philosophy is able to reach within all subjects though it may fit none.

And this leaves us with a question about how it’s done: should philosophy be discrete or integrated? Done in addition to everything else or done within everything else? For my part, I think there is a case for both but I don’t have time to make them here. I’ll finish with a cautionary note: my concern is that philosophy in schools is perhaps made to fit too much. By trimming it, covering its naked truth, sweetening it to better ‘fit the system’ we betray it. If we over-emphasise the collaborative aspect or its democratic allegiance, and under-emphasise its subversiveness, if we sentimentalise its power to better the world, if we reduce it to a ‘no right or wrong’ exchange of opinions, wiping away its evaluative strengths, we castrate it. We must be more careful to present philosophy to children not only as milk; philosophy sometimes has a bitter taste.

Where does philosophy fit? Perhaps its virtue lies in not fitting.”

Peter Worley, President of SOPHIA

Our resources section for 2016 will soon be filled with presentations, papers and workshops from this years presentation. You can see previous years here: SOPHIA Resources

‘Can Children do Philosophy?’

Click  to watch  Can Children Do Philosophy?

Published on 29 Apr 2016, The Battle of Ideas video includes talks from Peter Worley, President of SOPHIA and Catherine C. McCall (former President of SOPHIA). Our aim: to answer the question with “Yes”.

“Philosophy is a venerable university subject, but until recently it was much less common in schools. The ‘Philosophy For Children’ (P4C) movement aims to help children even at primary school to think for themselves using a wide variety of materials to instigate questioning and inquiry. Critics of teaching philosophy in primary schools maintain that philosophy is not just a formal way of inquiry involving dilemmas, reasons, criteria and fallacies. It also has its own tradition, a long quest for truth about the human condition and more, which would-be philosophers must engage with. Supporters of P4C insist children do not need this body of knowledge to philosophise because philosophy teaches reasoning in a conceptual way. But in simplifying philosophy, could P4C be undermining the development of genuine autonomy and creativity?

The speakers are Dr Catherine McCall, director of EPIC (European Philosophical Inquiry Centre), Peter Worley, CEO and co-founder of The Philosophy Foundation, Adam Seldon, co-director of Lauriston Lights, an education charity, and Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, English teacher and PhD researcher in education at the University of Cambridge. The debate is chaired by Toby Marshall, FE lecturer in social theory and PhD researcher in sociology education at UCL Institute of Education.”

(description from The Battle of Ideas)

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!

 

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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TES Comment Piece: Philosophy in Schools

Philosophy in SchoolsThe British Educational Newspaper, The TES, has a comment piece by President of SOPHIA, Peter Worley.

Peter argues why philosophy should be taught in schools, and there is a lively discussion afterwards about the role of philosophy, and RE in the development of well-being.

You can read the full article here: TES Comment