Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Raw thoughts on Philosophy

This evening my colleagues and I sat after work to discuss "philosophy" in order to try and find "our truth" - after all the preschool is called FILOSOFISKA - Philosphical - so we should all be aware of what this means - and how this influences the children we work with.

This first collective discussion was to gather thoughts, gather ideas - so what follows are a raw rambling of thoughts - from my memory and from five pages of notes made in Swedish, English and Swenglish - as during a discussion there is not only writing down of ideas from others, but also the trying to make sense of them - and I find, as good as my Swedish is getting, making sense of things still seems to happen in English...

At first it was just words...
values, ethics, social relationships, existential questions, awareness, reflections, searching/resistance

Slowly slowly more elaborate phrases and thoughts began to evolve...

... a philosophical question doesn't always lead to a philosophical dialogue...
... we need to make the world strange/new to be able to rediscover it...
...maybe children are natural philosophers because they are already trying to make sense of the world, unlike us adults who need to use a tool to peel off the layers of conformity so that we are able to see ideas and thoughts with fresh eyes and not be limited by our preconceived thoughts.

...children are systemising their world, trying to make sense of it, maybe in a similar way that a philosopher systemises their thoughts... as adults we have already systemised our thoughts and our way of looking at things (or maybe had that done for us by school) - that we need to work harder to be open to new thoughts and ideas than children...?

...all interesting conversations are not necessarily philosophical.

When entering a philosophical conversation with children (or anyone) the subject matter can often digress - those responsible for leading the discussion should make the participants aware of the change in subject matter and ask if this is where the dialogue should be taking them, or whether they should return to their original question...

... a desire to come as close to the truth as possible...
...to be open enough to be able change your own viewpoint...

...listening - it is an art - a skill, which needs to be learned in order to be able to philosophise.
...you need time to be able to listen to your own thoughts as well (why is it that children like to ask questions at bedtime after relaxing for a while - is it because they are avoiding falling asleep, or is it because they have had a chance to wind down and to begin to reflect?)

...adults are formatting - children are programming... does this work? How does this work? Do we support the children so they can self programme rather than the adults controlling the programming - so that we do not limit their creativity/potential

...important with follow-up questions - open questions - so that the children can deepen their thinking.

...can we adults be open enough for the children? Do we see things in specific ways, have hidden agendas, have specific outcomes which means we limit the children because we do not see, hear or understand their thought-processes?

... we need to understand "what do I really mean", to support the children to understand "what do I really mean" by asking follow-up questions - and also to support the process do we all mean the same things when using the same words - do we all understand them in the same way - eg what is poverty?

...it is not philosophical when you assume too much before starting, when you already have a complete picture in your head of what you are talking about...

...sometimes children DO want an answer so that they can understand, they have a right to this - not everything needs to be philosophical... and when they get their answers then they can reflect upon them - not just accept that this is the truth, but learn to question, to think and  to rely on themselves for finding the truth (this really made me think about why the Reggio Emilia Approach started - that the parents at the end of the second world war wanted their children to be able to find their own truth and not just accept the truth of a dictator ...)

...maybe some philosophical discussions last just a minute or two with young children...

...collect the children's questions...
...questions often pop up in connection with experiences...

Science V philosophy
they can go in and out of each other - maybe it depends on the follow up questions

instead of asking do you have a mummy, you can ask what is a mummy?
...need to be aware of how you ask the questions to avoid "yes/no" answers

...is it easier to reflect instead of philosophy? What is reflection?
...maybe reflection is to think about what has happened, the possibility to evaluate and re-evaluate, to be able to see things in a new light, to be enriched with vocabulary, reflection can be a good first step into a philosophical discussion...


Well there you have it - our raw thoughts. More thinking needed, but it has felt wonderful to talk about what philosophy with children is for us - trying to formulate out thoughts so that we can share them with others...
feels like a positive first step in the right direction
a step we will be making together with the children....

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