Saturday, 17 May 2014

Philosophy for children course... day 1

Today was a full day of deepening our understanding of philosophy for/with children with Beate Børresen and Bo Malmhester...

I have been given the chance to think and reflect... hear phrases that have helped in my own reflection process and had my thoughts challenged again...

What I have come away with the most from this session is two things...

1. That we as adults/facilitators need to understand the rules/structure of philosophical dialogue so well that we can experience a creative freedom with it... just as a teacher we need to understand the curriculum so well that we can also have creative freedom... ie that we are not limited by the curriculum but supported by the curriculum.
Just as when we are learning to dance... a waltz, a tango, line-dancing etc etc in the beginning we are focussing so much on the steps, on the rhythm that we cannot have creative freedom to develop and experiment with the dance (and to also still keep its form/essence)

2. That we need to be challenged as adults with this process so that we can feel that uncertainty, the uncomfortableness of not knowing - just as the children must feel. To also feel what it is like that someone else decides over you... as Bo Malmhester was the facilitator in our dialogue... to the extent that it did not feel like a dialogue but a dictator who said how much you could talk and when you could talk and what words you should be saying...

So how is that relevant to what we are doing with children...?

Well, how do the children feel when we are facilitating the dialogue (as a philosophical dialogue is not just a conversation, it does have rules) - well today I felt frustration... for me it felt like my first ever twitterchat... where I was so enormously frustrated by the truncated sentences being used... the over-thinking for every sentence to try and get the essence of what you want to say in such a small space, the fact that you had to decipher everyone elses truncated sentences too...
Over time I have got used to this form of dialogue... but I am still not over keen on it... especially as so much is happening at the same time and that five threads flow and trying to keep to one of them all partake in all of them is mind-blowing (both good and bad) - but afterwards there is time to go back and read, and discover where the threads went and reflect and continue the threads with more considered answers , statements and questions...
Today our philsophical dialogue did not feel philosophical as I felt there was so much focus on the structure... (which is not a bad thing, it is merely a sign that there was a need for that) - one of my coleague said that it was hard because there had not been clear rules before hand about the structure... which we got ansered by Beate... that yes, they had given us the two rules...

OK, I have looked back on the two rules, which I wrote down (one given at the start of the session, the second shortly before the dialogue) - and to be honest these rules did NOT prepare us for the structure of the dialogue and the behaviour of the facilitator... again this makes me think of us as children and teacher... how hard it is to express instructions so that others do understand... especially when you yourself understand extremely well and maybe take for granted this knowledge...

Here are the rules that we were given
RULE 1: to always say when you do not understand - the language and the idea, so that there is the opportunity for explanation - since philosophy is not about being afraid of looking stupid but the path to wisdom... we cannot achieve wisdom is we are afraid of asking for clarification.
RULE 2: write a question (max 10 questions) about what has been said. And a statement.

I keep looking at those rules and try to work out how I was supposed to understand that Bo would say "just one sentence/question" and controlled the dialogue to the extent that you became afraid of talking because expressing correctly was often incorrect. That it was so controlled that ideas could not be followed up fluidly because we were continuously explaining each others sentences and questions to the extent that sometimes you did not know whose sentence was being discussed and on such a level that to be honest at times i lost total interest in the conversation and it became hard work to listen.
I really wanted to be like my son and call out "BOOORRRIIING" at parts of the conversation... not because what my colleagues had to say was boring, on the contrary there was lots of interesting things being said, but that the form/structure of the conversation was soo controlled that it did not interest me...

AND that is something new for me... that the structure of a conversation has such an impact on how we interest ourselves... and how do the children react to the dialogues we have with them?

Did the structure mean that everyone participated... well yes and no... I feel that those who usually participate in these dialogues still did the most talking... but the form did mean that those who do participate big and with lots and lots and lots of sentences learned how to curtail and how to be succinct - myself included... afterall it was why the twitter chats were so hard in the beginning because I had to focus so hard on being to the point all the time... whilst writing posts for my blogs allow me to waffle on (and on and on) - as you might well know. These posts are organic, they are my train of thoughts, and sometimes loses the "red thread" as they say here in Sweden.

Beate and Bo said that the first session is  usually the hardest, that it is a process... just like the first dance lesson is the hardest as it about counting steps and learning shapes and body positions and terminology. Just as I said in the workshop in Canada... doing philosophy with children is a process... it is not something you can do over night, it is something that has to be worked on, reflected on, challenged and worked on some more...

It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow

Listening, of course came up as something we all need to be able to do to partake in a philosophical dialogue... to not be in a hurry... to not listen to answer, but to listen to understand...

before the dialogue began, one day the children explored the chairs their own way... the lighting of the candle was the start of the converation... not the arrangement of the chairs... the arrangement is to facilitate listening.

Another reflection is that by having philosophical dialogues like this with a very decided and more "powerful" facilitator (ie Bo is seen as knowing more than ourselves so we give him more power) - gives us the opportunity to "mess about" with philosophy (David Hawkins)... to be able to understand the children's processes by experiencing it ourselves. If we gain a better understanding of the feel of the process then we can attempt to apply this new knowledge to creating dialogues with the children that are better able to meet their needs...

1 comment:

  1. It turned out that rule two, was not quite the rule that we were supposed to have absorbed... the next day started with Beate letting us know that rule two had not been given to us... and that the rule was
    - to only help those that ask for help

    These rules (above) are not part of the STRUCTURE of the philosophical dialogues (which have their own rules/guidelines) - but more general rules for both the workshop and the philosophical dialogues that we have...


    ReplyDelete