If I had to pick just one lesson that is my favourite each week, it would have to be Philosophy.
Philosophy encourages children to wonder. To ask questions about the world around them, then to mull these over as a community until a deeper understanding has been reached.
One time we discussed the big question “does 100 years of history tell a story of progress or repetition?”
We spent some time defining what progress is and whether there was such a thing as bad progress. We decided that there was no such thing as bad progress, only bad consequences of progress. Next we talked about one child’s theory that “progress is when you learn from your mistakes.”
This led to the discussion- do you have to make mistakes to make progress (a resounding yes- these kids know all about the growth mindset) and what mistakes were made between 1915 and 2015?
The ideas started small: I made mistakes when I first picked up a chicken and now I know how to hold them without hurting them or getting hurt myself.
Then they got a little bigger: we made mistakes with technology that have led to better and better models of phone and computers. https://ateacherislikeacandle.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/are-smartphones-making-us-dumb/
Then bigger again: we made strategy mistakes when we went to war and that’s why we lost at Gallipoli. We’re not better at war now, we’re better at communicating and sharing so that we don’t need wars.
This led us to being able to talk about if we think we, as a society, have learnt from our mistakes.
And yes, all of this in a primary school classroom.
Can you honestly say that many of your adult conversations go beyond the initial, surface thinking? Beyond the trivial, past the self-interest or the other-shaming?
These weekly circles of inquiry actively teach kids to question the world around them, to communicate clearly and concisely, to actively listen to what their peers think, to keep an open mind, and to discuss what really matters.
That’s why Philosophy is my jam.