Sunday, 18 October 2015

Big Questions and Philosophy

As part of our Practical Pedagogies Conference, Rosy and I ran a workshop on Big Questions and Philosophy for Children.
It's been great working with Rosy to prepare this session, discussing our approaches, visiting each other's classrooms.
She uses a lot of playful activities that help everyone to participate in philosophical thinking, and I've been learning lots from what I've seen.
Here's the slideshow we used for the session:

Here we are, sorting the big philosophical questions from the not-so philosophical ones:
And discussing which big questions could come from a reading of Anthony Browne's Voices in the Park:

Here are some of the ideas we came up with. There were so many great ones!

  • Why do other people see things differently to me?
  • Why do we fear what's different?
  • Why is there a tree on fire in the park?
   (- This question, although perhaps not a "big" question, leads on to how Anthony Browne is using so many visual metaphors in the book. And  understanding of metaphor in stories unlocks all sorts of potential for discussion of them.)
  • What is fair?
  • What's wrong with a mongrel?
  • What makes us happy?
  • How do we perceive/define love?
  • Why are they unhappy?
  • Why do people go to communal places?
  • Is discrimination learned?
  • Why do the adults not interact?
  • Why can't scruffy kids play with smart kids?
  • Why do some people treat their animals better than their children?
  • Why don't boys like playing with girls?

It's not easy coming up with questions, but ultimately we'd like a situation where the students themselves can generate questions from a stimulus, and decide which one to discuss!

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