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Melbourne, VIC, Australia
2nd Grade Teacher at a school in Melbourne, Australia. My job: push kids to think. My passion: helping kids to tackle the life-long skill of searching for meaning, skills, answers and more questions.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Four mistakes I won't make again in philosophy.

"Let's make use of half an hour to think about a philosophical discussion," he thought.  
"I can take my kids outside, offer them some insights and let them 'just roll with it'," he thought.  
"I can give them a theme and get them to write brilliant questions based on that theme," he thought. 

Maybe not an EPIC fail, but a fail all the same.  This is where learning comes from!

Let's face it... when you deviate away from a well oiled plan, you meet with the Gloamgloazer (for any Edge Chronicle fans) or just SURE FAILURE.
Looks better than it was.... trust me.

My biggest mistakes in no particular order:

1.  Assuming that 30 minutes is long enough to 'hold a philosophical discussion'
2.  Crapping on for way too long to set the scene and the theme.
3.  Moving outside into the sunshine.  Served as a distraction - not a positive novelty.
4.  Stopping the conversation shortly after the lunch bell went.

The kids were brilliant.  I was the one who missed the boat.  HOWEVER, I know what to do better!

Remedies (in particular order pursuant to the biggest mistakes)

1.  Not beginning philosophical discussions out of the blue.  I will try to intertwine the theme I am aiming for into the day's conversation.  I will let the kids know in the morning that we'll be talking about "x" and that they should be thinking about it in advance.

2.  Sticking to the plan of reading a story to begin the session.

3.  Sticking to the well-oiled machine that is our circle of inquiry in the classroom.  On chairs.  With whiteboards.  In comfort.  With our stars (essential agreements) on the floor for all to see.

4.  Allowing kids to write their questions on the windows in chalk pen.  Then allowing others to write their points of view succinctly underneath.  This could take practise and time, but it could be amazing.

My favourite question from our session about power:  
"Do I have more power over Mr Black than he does over me?"

I need to do this sort of question justice by not rushing, by not throwing a theme at tired kids unannounced, by honouring their thoughts with chalk pens and semi-permanency on our ample windows, by offering them a story to focus their thoughts and by genuinely learning from every mistake I make on this journey.

Philosophy - I am one step closer to nailing it.  One less failure to overcome.  
Bring on the next philosophical DAY.

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