Teaching Children Philisophy

The rise of populism around the world and the various “crises” that we are going through alert all democratic public authorities to the need to educate future citizens with a critical spirit, humanist values.


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Equality between men and women, the need for a peaceful and respectful dialogue between all cultures and the struggle against all dogmatisms. Philosophy with children, whatever the current and form in which it is embodied, responds to this fundamental political imperative: to enable all children to acquire a critical mind, a rigor of thought and cultural keys will enable them to analyze and understand the world.
The philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who refers to the legacy of his colleague John Dewey, already denounced in 2011 in Les Émotions démocratiques a “silent crisis of education” which translates into a fundamental transformation of policies (and thus of Philosophies) of the school in the West which leave the Humanities and the need to train critical, lucid citizens, and even a contrarian develop a technicist vision of knowledge and skills solely for the adaptation of the individual to life Social and especially the liberal economy:


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“Deep changes affect what democratic societies teach young people, and these changes have not been adequately addressed. National advocates of profit, states and education systems brave carelessly the assets indispensable to the survival of democracies. If the trend continues, states around the world will soon produce generations of efficient machines, but not complete citizens capable of thinking for themselves, criticizing tradition and understanding what the sufferings and successes of others mean . The future of global democracies is at stake

Martha Nussbaum then refers to Matthew Lipman (2003) and philosophy experiments with children as a support for the development of critical thinking and thus of democracies:
“Teachers who want to adopt a Socratic mode of teaching have a contemporary source on which to guide themselves practically. They can find very useful but non-authoritative advice on Socratic pedagogy in a book collection led by the philosopher Matthew Lipman, whose children’s philosophy program for children between the ages of ten and fourteen Was developed at the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children at Montclair State College in New Jersey. Lipman starts from the conviction that young children are active and curious beings whose capacity for evaluation and questioning must be respected and developed, a conviction that he shares with the advocates of the progressive European tradition.


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The challenge of developing these practices is therefore not only pedagogical, but also political, in the noblest sense of the term.
All the initiatives of philosophy workshops with children – whether at the School, in cultural centers, associations or in the Popular Universities – are political acts that aim to democratize culture and citizen reflexivity. Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu had shown that no intellectual aptitude, no so-called “talent” or “disposition” was the result of a more or less benevolent nature, but the result of a long process of incorporation of Our many social, family and cultural influences.
And the school, out of ignorance of these processes, demands of its pupils skills that it does not offer, digging and thus legitimizing social inequalities. Thus, if we wish a true democratization of philosophy, we must be able to offer all students the intellectual and cultural tools that will allow them to meet the requirements of philosophical reflection and critical thinking.
Neither demagogy nor elitism, only an early initiation to the rigor but also to the joys of the philosopher can make it possible to win this bet.

The Importance Of The Present

I do not know why, but I have never been so convinced by the famous formula: carpe diem. In Latin, the first two words of a famous verse of Horace are translated as follows: "Gather the present day without worrying about tomorrow. There are plenty of variants. The romantic Goethe exclaims: "The present is our only happiness. At Ronsard, this gives: "Gather, gather your youth," in the famous sonnet to Hélène, which speaks of a rose that is hardly hatched, and of which Raymond Queneau has thus modernized the lesson: "If you believe little / xa va xa "But why, then, rise against this council of life which incites us to take advantage of the present moment, not to let it tarnish by worries, to take Awareness of the ephemeral nature of pleasures? Why do people who say carpe diem always annoy me a little?

Because I feel that there is something suspicious about it, like a catcher-gogo. Let's be more precise and go to the fact: the carpe diem, it's a dredger thing. Strategically, a dredger should not be too insistent or too focused on his objective; The play of seduction presupposes that one shows a certain detachment, that one does not manifest a vulgar appetite but that, while revealing one's desire, one keeps distance and humor. It is not therefore a question of going straight on the body of the other, but of improvising a discourse that envelops the flesh, which gives the thrill. The words of the great seducer are caresses. That is why it can not be trusted: the seducer never speaks altogether as a philosopher. Carpe diem, in the register of the contemporary drag, it would be transposed thus: "You know what? I do not want to ask too many questions. I prefer to let go. It is so good, to act in the madness of the moment, you do not find? The others do not care. This night everything is allowed. Cool ... We're gonna have fun! "

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But carpe diem is not the only famous antique phrases to function as an advertising slogan. The "know thyself", or gnôthi seauton in Greek, was inscribed on the pediment of the temple of Delphi in order to attract barges, to promote the worship of Apollo and to reap the offerings ...
In the case of the know yourself, the scam consists in that the promise is untenable; No more than an eye can see itself, I can not grasp the exterior; Worse, as my life is plunged in time, my future is unknown to me, I have forgotten whole sections of my old past, I can not make the tour of my self. The gnôthi seauton falls under the accusation of false advertising. In the case of carpe diem, the nature of the trick varies. Gathering the present day without worrying about tomorrow, it certainly means: "Do not think too much about the consequences, give me a kiss, let yourself melt ..." And it's pretty nice. Except that the obverse of the formula is more bitter, which suggests: "Tomorrow I will let you fall, I plate you in the early morning. "The carpe diem is the short ticket. It sounds like a generous offer, but it's just the opposite. It means that time is counted, that we must go straight to the thing and that tomorrow we will not talk about it anymore. As a bonus, he who holds this discourse pretends to be a mountain of wisdom. But it has been nearly two thousand years since the process began. Who is still duped?