As a Level 3 Philosophy Specialist teacher with the Philosophy Foundation (www.philosophy-foundation.org) I have been responsible since January 2014 for planning and facilitating philosophy enquiries with children in years 1 to 8. At present I work as the resident philosopher in three state primary schools and two secondary schools in South East and East London. I have facilitated enquiries with around a thousand different students of all different year groups in the past couple of years. In late 2015 I took on additional responsibilities as a teacher trainer for the Foundation, helping with INSET days in school as well as observing and training other philosophy specialist teachers.
The purposes of the philosophy sessions are roughly twofold.
Firstly, I aim to develop my students’ speaking and listening. In particular, their capacity to build on each other’s ideas, listen without hostility, bear conflict, and enjoy the pleasures of discussion.
Secondly, I aim to develop their thinking. In particular, their ability to uncover reasons for their claims, evaluate those reasons, follow the implications of their thoughts, and entertain multiple perspectives.
Wall of philosophy
These are a few insights and curious remarks from philosophy sessions I have facilitated:
‘Philosophy is when you take something simple and then you overthink it until it makes sense’ (Lakai, year 7)
‘In philosophy we look at deeper versions of the same question’ (Lakai, year 7)
‘I don’t think we create things. We discover them and then mix them together’ (Noshin, year 7)
‘Nothing is a word. A word is a thing. Therefore, nothing is a thing’ (Jessica, year 2)
‘She doesn’t deserve any cake, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t get any’ (Ayoola, year 3)
‘There’s no reason why the earth rotates’ (Louis, year 4)
‘1 + 2 isn’t 1 + 2, it’s 3’ (Michelle, year 7)
‘If chickens are only for us to eat then it doesn’t have a real purpose’ (Elizabeth, year 7)
‘You don’t really own money because you don’t keep it and it’s always being passed around’ (Aimee, year 6)
‘If I’m lying down I don’t think I’m doing anything, gravity is doing something to me’ (anon, year 8)
‘If it’s exactly midnight, it’s both Tuesday and Wednesday’ (anon, year 5)
‘It can be a cow and a chicken because if you were a girl and the doctor found out you were a tomboy you could be both’ (Reya, year 1)
‘You can never see a hole, only the shape of a hole and what’s behind it. Neither of those are the hole itself’ (Vilte, year 8)
‘You can’t feel silence because you can’t feel no vibrations’ (Nishat, year 8)
‘What do you think about nothing? You think emptiness. But nothingness is supposed to be empty of emptiness’ (Nikolai, year 9)
http://www.philosophersmag.com/index.php/tpm-mag-articles/11-essays/50-how-to-philosophise-with-children (An account of how to do philosophy with children from CEO and founder of the Philosophy Foundation, Peter Worley)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/lessons-get-children-thinking-Philosophical/dp/1472916085 (40 lessons to get children thinking, a book by Peter Worley)
https://vimeo.com/119317934 (A video about our work at the Philosophy Foundation)