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