P H I L O S O P H Y P A T H W A Y S ISSN 2043-0728
Issue Number 7
6 April 2001
I. 'Philosophy for Children' by Katharine Hunt
II. Philosophical Society ASCII Poster
III. 'Problems of Russian Philosophy' Call for papers
I. PHILOSOPHY FOR CHILDREN
"What a silly school this is! Fancy asking people
questions if you don't know the answers!"
Enid Blyton, "The Folk of the Faraway Tree"
After gaining a BA Philosophy at Southampton University, I was unsure what job
I wanted to do. I started working for the Midland Bank (now HSBC), but found
myself in a highly pressured yet very uninteresting job.
At university I had read a newspaper article about 'philosophy with children'
and was interested by the very idea, but none of my lecturers seemed to know
anything about it.
I first contacted Pathways in response to a small advert in The Times a couple
of years later, and studied the course "The Ultimate Nature of Things".
Following up contacts suggested by Geoffrey Klempner, I eventually found my way
to the Society for Promoting Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education -
SAPERE - and have been a member ever since.
People often ask "What is philosophy?" - so what is philosophy with children?
Of course, it's not like the kind of philosophy undergraduates learn at
university. A simpler way to describe it would be the teaching of reasoning. In
philosophy sessions, children might read or listen to a story, poem or newspaper
article, formulate a class list of questions raised by the reading matter, and
choose perhaps 1 or 2 to investigate further. They would be expected to give
reasons for their views, and any agreements or disagreements with the other
children. The atmosphere is supposed to be, or evolve into with practice, one
of mutual respect, where people try to understand each other's views, rather
than trying to put people's ideas down. The teacher acts as a kind of chairman,
guiding the discussion but without supplying the ideas to be discussed. It has
been done with children of all ages, in various countries, with children from
I attended SAPERE's conference in Oxford last year. The theme was "Educating
without Dictating". It was a hot day in June. After an introductory talk, I
spent the first part of the morning discussing 'Newswise' - newspaper articles
used to teach English / philosophical enquiry at Key Stages 2 - 3. Everyone
gathered together for a talk on the educational philosophy of John Dewey. Then,
after a delicious buffet lunch I enjoyed an interesting and humorously presented
workshop on working with able children; a particular interest of mine.
The workshops were over very quickly - too quickly; only a few of the many
issues raised could be addressed. I attended the SAPERE AGM, then we were able
to enjoy a cup of tea before heading home.
I am sure anyone concerned with this area of philosophical activity would find
this year's conference particularly interesting; it forms part of the
International Council for Philosophical Inquiry with Children conference. The
conference takes place in Winchester, Hampshire (England) in July, from 12th -
17th, with the focus on SAPERE on the weekend of the 14th and 15th.
Anyone interested should contact SAPERE's secretary:
7 Cloister Way
or visit the SAPERE web site - http://www.sapere.net .
I have been working in a Montessori nursery school for just over 2 years. I am
particularly interested in philosophy with children, and also the educational
needs of the highly able. The children I work with are between 2 and 5 years
old, and are perhaps a little too young to consider philosophical questions -
many of them are still learning to talk. Nevertheless, my knowledge of
philosophy for children has made a subtle difference to the way I question the
As a nursery teacher, I usually find myself asking questions because I want to
find out what the children know: "What colour is your jumper? What day is it?
What is this called?" As philosophy for children points out, we want children
to ask exciting, enquiring, thoughtful questions - and yet this is the kind of
example we give them - questions to which we already know the answers! When
possible, I try to ask questions where I don't have the answer - for example,
on a cold March morning while setting up our calendar, I asked "Is it winter or
spring?"; and on reading "Elmer and Wilbur", in which Wilbur the elephant is
stuck up a tree with no explanation of how he got there, "How do you think an
elephant could get up a tree?" One child surprised me with his thoughtful
answer to this one; having disappeared off to the toilet, he returned and
suggested "He could've lifted himself up with his trunk."
When I left University, I decided not to pursue further study in philosophy
because I wanted to 'do something more practical'. It would be nice if I can
one day use philosophy with children to do just that.
(c) Katharine Hunt 2001
Katharine Hunt is 'Margaret'.
See 'Letters to My Philosophy Students'
II. PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY ASCII POSTER
If you are a Philosophical Society member trying to form a local group, Here is
a text only (ASCII) poster suitable for putting up on notice boards. The poster
will print nicely on a single A4 or US Letter sheet using a fixed width font
such as Courier, Monaco or Mishawaka.
Select and copy the header and text below, set the size of the font to 9 and
adjust the document margins to fit. Don't forget to substitute your own name
and address and e-mail!
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THE PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND (Est. 1913)
IN 1913, a society dedicated to philosophy - whose name has been lost in the
mists of history - was re-constituted under the title, 'The Philosophical
Society of England'. Its founding charter was 'to promote the study of
practical philosophy among the general public'. The advocacy of the practical
relevance of philosophy continues to be our primary aim. More than ever, a
healthy society needs philosophers in order to stimulate the process of
criticism and debate.
In association with Pathways to Philosophy, the distance learning project based
at the University of Sheffield UK, the Society offers a wide range of programs
leading to Associate and Fellowship Diplomas. Since the launch of the Pathways
distance learning project in 1995, correspondence students from over 30
countries world wide have followed the Pathways programs.
The Philosophical Society gives support and encouragement to groups of members
world wide who meet to discuss philosophy and invite speakers. The journal of
the Philosophical Society, The Philosopher, one of the longest running
philosophical journals, is published twice a year and distributed free to all
Dr Geoffrey Klempner
Director of Studies
The Philosophical Society of England
Dept of Philosophy
University of Sheffield
Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom
III. 'PROBLEMS OF RUSSIAN PHILOSOPHY' CALL FOR PAPERS
This year Chair of History of philosophy plans to publish an edition of the
problems of Russian philosophy. This edition will be published by Chair of
History of philosophy (Urals State University) together with Institute of
Philosophy of Russian Academy of Science (Moscow). The theme of the book is
"Russian philosophy between West and East: the problem of influence, critics,
adopting and comparative analysis".
The deadline is September 15, 2001.
Submitted manuscripts must fit the following criteria:
1) The article should be written in Russian, German or English; 2) The length
of the article should not exceed 5 pages; 3) The manuscripts should be
accompanied by information about author: full name, position, university and
state; 4) Two copies of the paper and 3.5-inch floppy disk should be sent by
Dmitry Alexandrovich Olshansky
Lenin avenue 51,
Urals State University, room 311
If the author does not send 3.5-inch floppy disk, in that case he/she should to
sent the text by E-mail to: Olshansky@hotmail.com
Olshansky (16. 09. 1981) Lenin avenue, 51
Urals State University, room 311
RUSSIAN FEDERATION, 620083
tel.: +7 3432 557477
+7 3432 418206
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