Intellectual Safety

I have two reflections to share from our Thursday session that arose from the Intellectual Safety post-its. I mentioned this briefly in our discussion, but I keep coming back to the prevalence of feeling words and also descriptions of bodily experiences on the post-its. This included words like: comfortable, uncomfortable, scared, safe, humble, fearful, excited, and feelings of trust. There were descriptions of sighs, eye contact, body language, and laughter. If these descriptions tell us about what an intellectually safe (or unsafe) experience might look like, then I can’t help think (and feel) that there has to be more acknowledgement of this in p4c, and in education more broadly, and more space to let these experiences emerge. I think there’s something here as well around not always privileging the mental capacities of a student and who this might allow into the conversation, who it might give more access too. So, what does this look like in p4c? How do we acknowledge and invite the body and our feelings into the conversation or activity in a way that if not fluffy or disconnected from everything else we’re doing? All of these thoughts and feelings were amplified by Dr. J reminding us that wonder is a feeling (I had never really considered this!). One other thing that I’m continuing to digest was the comments some folks made about inner intellectually safety and how it is often my own self-talk that keeps me from participating fully in a discussion. I have definitely had students who this is also true for, who are so hard on themselves they end up creating an unsafe environment for their own thinking and sharing. I’m excited to think more about this and bring it into the conversation with my elementary classroom this fall.

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