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Why Philosophy with Children is Not a Good Idea for Research with Children

Title data

Biswas, Tanushree:
Why Philosophy with Children is Not a Good Idea for Research with Children.
Event: Philosophieren mit Kindern als Methode der Kindheitsforschung? , 27.11.-28.11.2015 , Technische Universität Chemnitz.
(Conference item: Conference , Lecture )

Official URL: Volltext

Abstract in another language

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” - Pablo Picasso

When Picasso made this confession, he seems to have done two things: One, he acknowledged that children can be ‘artists’ and two, he recognised that there is something in the way that the children he observed painted, that he as an adult could not easily achieve. The second observation is of high significance to the discussion of the scope of philosophy with children as a method for research for child research.

In order to begin this discussion, I demarcate the approximate boundaries of what I grasp as child research by presenting a brief overview of the paradigm of Childhood Studies. Following this, I comment on the scope of philosophy with children as a method for doing research with children, as understood through a childhood studies perspective. I hold that the current models of doing philosophy with children, especially the models based on the ‘community of inquiry’ according to Matthew Lipman are not ideal for research with children. This is mainly because of its focus on analytical and critical thinking expressed through ‘the word’. If children do in fact ‘speak a hundred languages’, it is then clear that a method which depends on analytical and critical expression of the spoken word will add limitations to the possibility of research with children. I bring to attention three problems with the current models of philosophy with children namely, the intrumentalisation of philosophy with children, the problem of identifying philosophy itself and the problem of identifying culture.

To paint it with a broad brush, philosophy with children seems to be more and more instrumentalised insofar as it is deployed as an instrument to develop certain capacities and skills in school children. Secondly, the challenge of defining what philosophy means includes the possibility to acknowledge philosophy (and consequently logic) in different forms. The current model once again, is constructed on a very narrow western definition, which excludes the foreign. The child in this sense is also a foreigner whose perspective is left out of the definition of what constitutes philosophy. Thus it is possible to ask, how to children philosophise and what does it mean as an adult to philosophise with children? In order to find an answer, my current research with children in Trondheim (Norway) seeks to understand the scope of philosophising in the context of play such that the adult is a guest in the child’s play.

Further data

Item Type: Conference item (Lecture)
Refereed: No
Keywords: Childism; Philosophy with Children; Childhood Studies; Trondheim; Research with Children
Institutions of the University: Faculties
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Chair General Education
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 100 Philosophy and psychology
300 Social sciences > 370 Education
Date Deposited: 16 May 2018 07:15
Last Modified: 16 May 2018 07:25
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/44181