Today's discussion at Waikiki provided much needed framing for some thoughts swirling around in my mind during this symposium. Many disciplines and professions have some sort of product or talent which makes it unique. For historians, the timeline. With doctors, the treatment. The pedagogy of educators. The map of geographers, policy of lawmakers, and the plan of urban planners. Today I learned to articulate this as a superpower. Understanding this superpower seems essential in teaching those who will one day wield the power because, as I see it, education is about building capacity. If we are to teach philosophy we must understand its superpower so we can build capacity in children to recognize it and wield it responsibly. For philosophy, I believe this superpower is inquiry. If this is true, any effort to teach children philosophy necessarily requires the combination of the superpowers of both the educator (pedagogy) and the philosopher (inquiry). This intersection is p4cHI.
Today we heard from 10 teachers who are using the methods of P4C-Hawaii. Two are doing work with adults in correctional facilities, and the others are doing work with kids (in grades K-12) in their own classrooms and sharing the methods with other teachers in their schools. Many of them said they have incorporated the methods as part of their general pedagogical approach, rather than slicing out time specifically for philosophical inquiry. Some of the big take-aways for me are: (1) Teaching a course in P4C through a university's Education department is key to spreading the approach into schools. (2) A philosopher-in-residence is not there to demonstrate the facilitation of an inquiry, but actually participates in the discussion to help guide the content so teachers and students see how to take the discussion in philosophical directions (considering multiple perspectives, challenging assumptions, looking for reasons, connecting to issues about knowledge, value, metaphysics, etc.). (3) Teachers want to see that doing P4C is going to achieve clear outcomes for their students, or they don't want to give up class time to trying it out --3 outcomes can be Thinking, Listening, Speaking. (4) Teachers don't want to read a manual explaining a fancy new pedagogical style; it's better to demonstrate it and pull out elements to scaffold them into incorporating into their own teaching style (e.g., first just suggest they get kids noticing assumptions). (5) Calling it 'discussion circles' or 'communities of inquiry' conveys the method better than 'Philosophy for Children'.
I’m constantly astounded by the depth of the comments and reflections by the participants. I’m kind of falling in love with this group. And it’s only day 2! Is this what happens when kids do p4c-Hawaii in their communities?
Today i saw how simple practices remove the dogmatic structure of an educational setting. With the community ball each individual was able to guide discussion in accordance with their preferences. This is the type of strategy that promotes inquiry and discussion within a group without direct participation by the facilitator or teacher.
Really happy that we have so many wonderful educators from across the world join us for our inaugural p4c Hawaii Summer Symposium.