Philosophy in Irish Schools. Dr. Philomena Donnelly Jean Ryan 21/11/15

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1 Philosophy in Irish Schools Dr. Philomena Donnelly Jean Ryan 21/11/15 PANTONE 286C PANTONE RED 032C

2 Overview of Talk Why philosophy? The story of western philosophy Thales The educational value of philosophy as a subject and as a pedagogy The NCCA short course in Philosophy Implementing philosophy in the classroom: Topics and Processes A short philosophy Thinking Time session Jean Ryan Questions/ Discussion

3 Defining Philosophy it breaks down, describes and assess moves we ordinarily make at great speed it then becomes evident that alternatives are possible. John Campbell, all men have opinions but few think Berkeley Deleuze G. and Guattari F. (2003) What is Philosophy?

4 Disciplines within Philosophy Epistemology the theory of knowledge Metaphysics the theory of being Logic the theory of reason and inference Value theory includes ethics, politics and aesthetics Thales / Militeus natural philosophy, participatory democracy and writing to remember Socrates, Plato, Aristotle the academy

5 Why philosophy? Think clearly Bring to light unnoticed presuppositions Explain/ deconstruct complex idea and concepts To tease out connections and implications To clarify To question To reason, to argue, enter into dialogue

6 Why Philosophy? Extract what is essential from masses of information structure an argument challenge orthodoxy everybody says define critique, to synthesis Problem solve hypothesis

7 Why Philosophy? Abstract out general principles and then question them Examine possibilities maybe, perhaps To doubt Reflect Change one s mind in light of argument To be open in thought/thinking I disagree with myself

8 Broader Outcomes/Values Metacognition Transferrable thought processes Flexibility of thought a thoughtful person openness of being dispositions Tolerance Citizenship/ democracy Not all conversation is philosophical sophistry

9 Educational Rationale Abstract/ metacognition thought key to learning.forming concepts Being away of one s own thinking Vygotskian/ neo-vygotskian we become ourselves through others Friere: with The friction of good thinking, deep thinking Making meaning Often in life there is not one right answer The importance of oracy

10 Introducing philosophy-warm-up exercises Wonder (Aristotle) Curiosity Possible exercises to commence and encourage the children/ students to fine voice Define a chair, which would you rather be a door, a window or a wall? Why? Then why not? (arguments for and against) If you could fly

11 Ask a question (the answer is Cork) Make a statement using because Make a connection between random words These are based on thinking skills but most importantly every child/student can speak, find voice a buy-in to the philosophy session

12 Role of the teacher Model: I wonder, I was thinking, I agree with, I disagree with, is it always so? Perhaps, maybe Facilitate Socratic teaching, careful listening, pick up, feed back, extend the thinking, question Do not judge i.e. no well done, good boy/girl etc. Thank the children at the end for their thinking

13 Topics/ Resources In time the children s question/topics Look for the Abstract Stories Poems Pieces of art Dilemmas Topical issues

14 Definitions and Ifs What is happiness? Beauty? Freedom? If I were a polar bear If I could live forever If I was a butterfly If I was a tree If I was a door If I could fly (although do not begin with ifs)

15 Abstract topics Time: when did it begin? Does it go slow/fast at different times? Can we stop it? If all the clocks in the world stopped would that stop time? Can time end? Numbers; what do they do when we are now using them? If there was no number 6/ 92/ 110/ 60 what would happen?

16 Should you ever tell a lie? Can you lie to yourself? (Kant) Are computers smarter than humans? Does a tree make a sound if it falls in the woods and there is no-one there? (Berkeley) Can you think about nothing? Do you have a free will?(hobbes) If many people think something is true, does that make it true?

17 Assessment NCCA Document /record Reflect on Process, time Concepts, questions, language Dialogue, opening statements, philosophical elements, emerging philosophy

18 Ballymakenny School: a Vignette of Practice Thank Jean, Alan and Caroline The O Casey and Hawking classes- first and second year students Jean s assessment of six weeks of philosophy

19 Hawking: after three/six weeks

20 Hawking after three/ six weeks

21 O Casey: after three/six weeks

22 O Casey after three/six weeks

23 Hawking s comments You can speak your opinion The way we all have an input without anyone saying it s wrong I like to listen to different people s opinions Getting to talk Hearing other people s opinions and what they have to say No homework Fun, not writing stuff For me to give my opinion Not having to write stuff and the way we connect

24 It s an hour out of class to sit and talk about thinking and you get to say what is on your mind Topics we talked about Good topics Thinking about the topic Being able to talk without anyone interrupting Everything Giving your opinion and having a discussion

25 Not like-hawking Sitting Not that exciting Talking only once Can get boring A bit long When people argue with my theory Not relevant

26 O Casey comments The fact that anyone can speak and everyone will listen Talking about my opinion and listening to my classmates Sitting in a circle and listening to everyone else s ideas Getting to know more about people I like to express our feelings and nobody will laugh I like listening to other people talking out loud to other people in my class They give everybody a chance to express their feelings I do like listening to ideas and opinions so they give me ideas

27 I enjoy that we can speak our minds on the subject Being able to talk and think about things in the middle of class that s not English or Maths is refreshing I find hearing other people s opinions enjoyable Like you have a chance to speak out for what you think When I got to speak I enjoy expressing my opinion That I can speak what I feel and I don t feel judged That we sit in a circle and nobody judges what you say

28 Did not enjoy- O Casey Sitting Sometimes feeling under pressure to talk When you want to talk but you have nothing to say Nothing- just the fact that I keep passing on like I do really speak but find it hard to A bit boring Boring when people are speaking too long The headache I have afterwards from thinking that hard I do not like to speak out on my own

29 I would like to be able to be asked easier questions so I would be able to answer almost every question I don t like talking (I did and thank you) Certain subjects Some topics That sometimes people repeat what other people say Well I enjoyed everything but I hate feeling like anytime I don t say something

30 Jean Ryan Teacher in Ballymakenny College. Experience of Philosophy

31 My previous experience with philosophy.

32 Teacher reflections on the experience Initial reservations What would the content of the lessons be? How would students view my contributions? What if I was unsure of what to say? Student behaviour during the sessions/ their levels of engagement.

33 Lesson Content Topics covered. 1.Are people and numbers equally real? 2.Are Humans good? / How do we treat animals? 3.Is it ok to tell a lie? 4.Beauty- what is beauty? / Language- Are words alive? 5.War- Is there such thing as a just war? 6. If if trees could talk / if humans could fly

34 How would students view my contributions? The first week I think they were surprised that I was trying to think on my feet. They really enjoyed the fact that I often referenced their thinking, starting with what I heard Lisa say really got me thinking OR I hadn t looked at it that way until I heard Lisa say On occasion if a potentially funny comment was made they looked at me to see how I would react. I found it best to show no reaction whatsoever.

35 Student Engagement For the most part they engaged well with everything that was said and listened well to others. I did find though that they tended to react (sighing/ yawning/ what? etc.) this in a way I felt was disrespectful to the person making the contribution. This behaviour declined as lessons went on. Some of the students were slow to contribute, I did however like the idea that students felt comfortable to say I m confused. I think maybe we could challenge students by asking them to highlight something that was confusing them. I think it might be a good idea to have an introduction piece, maybe allow the students to ask a few questions that may clarify what they will be talking about during the lesson. It is essential to guarantee that the language used is suitable to allow them access the topic from the start

36 Student Engagement I wonder could students get into the right frame of mind by doing a little mind clearing exercise of some description I think we need to be careful that students are clear about the questions asked I think that some students may benefit from a concrete statement idea to get them going on a topic. I think humans are good because / I think humans are bad because. I think it s important that they have one idea in their mind when they are asked to comment. Maybe ask the question and count to 10 before we start to move the conversation around the group. This style of lesson gives students a great opportunity to use information they have gained through other sources.

37 Observations on the session I facilitated. Ø I think they were a little bit unsure to start as I was the one conducting the discussion Ø I had planned out the content in advance; I didn t stick to this. It was much easier to go with ideas put forward from the class rather than follow my predetermined plan. Ø I used a walking debate at the start, it got them thinking before we were even in the circle. Ø I often used a direct quote from one of the group to point us in the direction of the next discussion topic. I think they responded well to this as it grounded the discussion very much in their understanding of the concept. Ø I was very aware that I was saying things like, great, very good after student contributions. I think this is really just a teacher thing, to encourage them. I did wonder though was I validating some opinions and then not others Ø In general I was very pleased with how the session went, I was a little nervous to start. I think that the level of interaction from the students encouraged me.

38 Benefits of Philosophy Sessions Developing listening skills Developing confidence in speaking Students are aware that there are no wrong answers Promotes creative thinking Promotes team work/ taking turns Develops the ability to agree/ disagree and then to clarify ideas

39 Developing Philosophy in our School CSPE- They have developed a method of approaching an issue, definitely considering both sides, I would like if they keep the idea of I wonder. In their heads as we go on and look at other issues in CSPE. Ethical Education I have tied our exploration of philosophy into our Ethics course by exploring how our ideas have changed, going back to our thoughts on things like are people good or bad / should you tell I lie. I have linked these into the discussion on values that we had started in September.

40 Using the experience in my teaching. As a school we are continuously reviewing our Ethical Education Plan, we are currently looking at ways to integrate the Philosophical lesson into our current plans. We are aware that teachers will need to be supported in delivering this type of lesson. The benefits outlined previously really encapsulate many of the skills that we would like to develop in our students.

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