2017 Conference


Social Justice & Pre-College Philosophy:
Where do we go from here?

All sessions meet at the Gleacher Center, 450 N. Cityfront Drive, Chicago
Conference Registration Table: Outside Room 100
Book display throughout Room 100

 

Theme:

Social Justice & Pre-College Philosophy:
Where do we go from here?

All sessions meet at the Gleacher Center, 450 N. Cityfront Drive, Chicago
Conference Registration Table: Outside Room 100
Book display throughout Room 100

 


Download Conference Poster »

Friday, 06/23/2017

TimeDescription
8:30 am

Arrival & Registration

Coffee & light snack available

9:00 - 9:15 am

Opening Remarks: Room 100

Bart Schultz & Steve Goldberg, Conference Planning Committee Chair
Tom Wartenberg, PLATO President

9:30 - 10:45 am

Concurrent Sessions

Elementary & Middles School Track (Chair: Tom Wartenberg)Room 204
Methods for Engaging Children in Philosophical DiscussionMitch Bickman & Laura Trongrad
Teaching Philosophy on the Blackfeet ReservationJonathan Ficaro


 

High School Track (Chair: Steve Fouts)

Room 206
Not the Fairy Tale Ending: Thinking about Social Justice through Fairy TalesWendy Turgeon
Teaching Justice through Teaching EmpathyKristen Golden

 

Programs Track (Chair: Kyle Robertson)Room 208
By Youth, For Youth: the Emporderando a Latinoamerica model for Social Justice EducationPedro Monque & Marcus Schweiger
Philosophy for Children from Mali to MichiganStephen Esquith

 

Theoretical Issues Track (Chair: Sara Goering)Room 306
Childism and Pre-College PhilosophyMichael Burroughs
Children and Epistemic InjusticeGary Bartlett

 

11:00 am - 12:15 pm

Concurrent Sessions

Elementary & Middle School Track (Chair: David Shapiro)Room 204
What if you were Blue? Talking Philosophy of Race, Culture, and Color with Kindergarten StudentsSara Goering
What is Greed?Michael Pritchard & Elaine Engelhardt

 

Elementary & Middle School Track 2 (Chair: Kelly Laas)Room 206
Using Philosophical Inquiry to Discuss Equity & Fairness through a Board Game Called "Difference"Debi Talukdar

 

High School Track (Chair: Wendy Turgeon)Room 208
Teaching Philosophy through Works of Art: Exploring Philosophy @ the Virtual MuseumTom Wartenberg
Why Plato didn't like ArtKevin Barry & Jack Stephenson

 

Programs Track (Chair: Chad Miller)Room 306
Pre-College Philosophy, Social Justice, and Learning Disabilities: How Pre-College Philosophy Can Help Overcome Educational Injustice Relating to AutismChristopher Flint & Bart Schultz
A Summer Enrichment Program for Economically Disadvantaged High School StudentsAdam Valenstein, Brandon Williams, Peter Zuk

 

Theoretical Issues Track (Chair: Landon Hedrick)Room 100
Dialogue and Social Language in the ClassroomKarl Joyner
The Importance of Not Being Earnest: the Role of Irreverence in Philosophy and Moral EducationStephen Miller

 

12:15 -1:15 pm

Lunch on your own

1:30 - 2:45pm

Concurrent Sessions

Elementary & Middle School Track (Chair: Michael Burroughs)Room 204
Social Inequalities, Democratic Spaces, and Philosophy in SchoolsJana Mohr Lone & Debi Talukdar
Inquiries Relevant to Conflict ResolutionBetsy Decyk

 

High School Track (Chair: Hira Shah & Stacy Cabrera)Room 206
Girls are Philosophers, Too: Philosophy at a Girls' SchoolWilliam Mottolese
Facilitating Productive Philosophical Discussions using Argument DiagrammingAllison Cohen

 

Theoretical Track (Chair: Scott Dick)Room 208
Utilizing Lived Experience as Stimulus for Philosophical Discussion: The Integration of Story Circles and Philosophy for ChildrenAriel Sykes, Peter Shea, Natalie Fletcher & Maughn Gregory
3:15 - 4:30 pm (Room 100)

Featured Speaker: David Stovall

Resisting the Racial Contract in School: Critical Race Theory, Community, Resistance, and the Future of Education

4:30 - 6:00 pm (Midway Club, 5th floor, Gleacher Center

Reception hosted by the Squire Foundation

Drinks and appetizers

Saturday, 06/24/2017

TimeDescription
9:00 - 10:30 am (Room 100)

Fishbowl Session

This interactive group session will focus on some central issues pertaining to pre-college philosophy and its future. Fishbowl discussions typically begin with brief, pre-framing comments from a pre-selected group. Following these initial comments, attendees are encouraged to step forward and actively participate in the discussion, whether by raising a question or offering a comment or idea for the group to consider. The discussion then proceeds in dialogic fashion. In our fishbowl session, a group of faculty and teachers involved in pre-college philosophy initiatives will offer framing comments. Some initial questions for group consideration will include:

  • As a community of philosophers, teachers, and students, what should serve as guiding goals for pre-college philosophy over the next five years?
  • How can PLATO promote social justice in our pre-college teaching, programs, and educational system?
  • How can pre-college philosophy promote the discernment, dialogue, and commitment to civic virtue needed in our current political climate?

Fishbowl Participants (Moderator: Steve Goldberg)

  • Bart Schultz
  • Jon Ficaro
  • Steve Fouts
  • Stephen Esquith
  • John Torrey
  • Jana Mohr Lone
  • Pedro Monque
  • Michael Burroughs
11:00 am - 12:15 pm

Concurrent Sessions

Elementary & Middle School Track (Chair: William Mottolese)Room 222
Using Role Play Simulations to Deepen Children's Philosophical DiscussionPaul Bodin
How Low Can You Go? Philosophy in the Pre-K Classroom

Erik Kenyon

 

High School Track (Chair: Kelly Laas)Room 240
Teaching Controversial Issues in the High School Philosophy Classroom: to walk on Egg Shells or to throw Caution to the WindLandon Hedrick
Uses of Popular Culture in Teaching PhilosophyJohn Cleary

 

Programs Track (Chair: Jesse Walsh)Room 244
High School Ethics Bowl in Chicago: Classroom and BeyondKelly Lass & Scott Dick
Ethics Bowl as a Pedagogical ToolKyle Robertson

 

Theoretical Issues Track (Chair: Ariel Sykes)Room 246
Reasonable RacismDarren Chetty via Skype
What Do We Mean by "Pre-College Philosophy": Avoiding Conservatism in the Pre-College ClassroomJohn Torrey & Jonathan Wurtz

 

12:15 - 1:15 pm

Lunch on your own

1:30 - 2:45 pm

Concurrent Session

Elementary & Middle School Track (Chair: Debi Talukdar)Room 222
Exploring Race and Social Inequalities with Fifth Grade StudentsJana Mohr Lone & David Shapiro

 

High School Track (Chair: Kevin Barry)Room 240
Your District Approved the Creation of a Philosophy Course: Now What?Nick Caltagirone & Dan Fouts
Applying Theory to Practice at Stanford Online High SchoolChristina Drogalis, Lisa Hicks & Jonathan Weil

 

Programs Track (Chair: Stephen Miller)Room 244
Phil with Chil: A Carleton College Outreach ProgramAlex Chang
Introducing HYPE: Hosting Young Philosophy EnthusiastsChristopher Brooks, Kelli Braley & Erich Dietel

 

Theoretical Issues Track (Chair: Bart Schultz)Room 246
Why is the Curriculum so White?Bart Shultz
Mutual Aims: Social Justice in Non-Profits and Philosophy for ChildrenDustyn Addington

 

3:15 - 4:30 pm

Concurrent Sessions

Elementary & Middle School Track (Chair: Roberta Israeloff)Room 222
Exploring Ethics through Literature in Elementary SchoolNatalie Janson
Aristotle's Virtues and Social JusticeMartha Beck

 

High School Track (Chair: Dan Fouts)Room 240
Teaching Animal MindsSteve Goldberg
Can Taking Determinism Seriously Advance Social Justice?Allison Cohen

 

Programs Track (Chair: Ariel Sykes)Room 244
What Community Colleges Can Teach about InclusivenessCheri Carr, Shannon Proctor & Dana Trusso
Some Outcomes and Where to Next: Four Years into Starting a Philosophy ProgramChris Webb

 

Theoretical Issues Track (Chair: Jana Mohr Lone)Room 246
Philosophy with Teachers: Using Picture Books to Explore Social JusticeDebi Talukdar
Half a Promise: Empower Under-represented Students or Betraying them to a Racist, Classist Discipline?Marisol Brito

 

Poster Session (Chair: Jennifer Cattaneo)Room 100
Philosophy in the Classroom and Community of Mira Costa High SchoolHira Shah & Stacy Cabrera
Ball State Philosophy Club's Outreach ProgramSarah Vitale
Vo Tech Schools through the Lens of Systematic OppressionJesse Walsh
Evaluating Concept Possession as an Explicit Social PracticeAlessia Marabini
Philosurfers: Utilizing Reflections on Teenagers as Philosophers in ResidenceChad Miller

 

4:30 - 5:00 pm (Room 100)

Final Session

A group discussion on goals and aspirations: where do we go from here?

A - F

Dustyn Addington
Bio:

Dustyn Addington is a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Washington. His work focuses on the biases that afflict our judgments, especially unconscious judgments. He is also interested in normativity and the patterns of political discourse. He has been involved with Philosophy for Children since 2014.

Mutual Aims: Social Justice in Non-Profits and Philosophy for Children

Abstract:

Philosophy for children lesson plans regularly focus on a normative concept related to issues in social justice: justice in general, fairness, bias, etc. Many non-profit organizations also aim to increase awareness and consideration of these issues. These mutual goals work in concert with one another, yet there is not a substantial relationship between social justice non-profits and philosophy for children.

In my presentation, I will argue for developing relationships between non-profit organizations and the philosophy for children project. My presentation will have three goals: (1) to illustrate the shared goals of non-profits and philosophy of children around normative issues like social justice, (2) to advocate for the benefits that non-profit and philosophy for children organizations have to offer one another, and (3) to highlight the potential obstacles that confront any potential relationship between the two.

Philosophy for children and social justice non-profit organizations share at least two goals: (a) raising awareness and consideration of normative concepts, especially those relating to social justice, and (b) educating and informing the public on issues critical to culture, policy, and communities. Both aim for an informed, normatively-aware public.


The mutual goals allow for mutual benefits. Philosophy for children offers partner non-profit organizations increased awareness of its focal concepts, whether it be discrimination, access to health care, or issues of fairness. It also engages students about the appropriate measures to take in response to their own views about these topics, potentially activating an increased interest in issues of social justice. Non-profit organizations have much to offer philosophy for children instructors and organizations as well. Two significant benefits that could be easily shared without a formal relationship are (a) the networks and contacts that non-profit organizations have throughout local communities that can produce opportunities for new relationships for philosophy for children instructors and organizations, most especially underserved communities who have no contact with philosophy for children programs, and (b) resources, data, and case studies centering on the non-profit organization’s conceptual focus that can serve as fuel for classroom discussion (e.g. data on how racial bias affects health). Another possible benefit requires a more formal relationship between philosophy for children instructors/organization and non-profit organizations: funding or co-funding opportunities for philosophy for children programs.


However, there are three potential obstacles relevant to a relationship between non-profit organizations and philosophy for children: (a) a conflict of interest between the political goal of advocating for social justice and the pedagogical mission of discussing social justice, (b) the bureaucratic strings attached to non-profit funding, and (c) the lack of awareness around philosophy in general and philosophy for children in particular. I address each of these obstacles and provide concrete suggestions on how they might be navigated.


Ultimately, I argue that philosophy for children instructors and organizations should reach out to relevant non-profit organizations to develop mutually beneficial relationships,
focusing especially on the exchange of networks and information for pedagogical skill and concept awareness raising.


Kevin Barry
Bio:

Kevin Barry and Jack Stephenson teach at Evanston Township High School. Over the last nine years, they developed Evanston’s Philosophy course, as well as many philosophical units that have been incorporated into their respective English and history classes at ETHS.  Their goal has always been to create lessons that can engage all students in Evanston’s multi-faceted mixed-ability classrooms.

Why Plato Didn’t Like Art?

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Jack Stephenson

Rationale: Given the current trends in secondary education, it seems easier to integrate philosophy into existing courses.  An example of this integration could be “Plato’s Thoughts on Art,” because this topic could be relevant in a wide variety of courses (e.g., English, art, history, sociology, and psychology).  

Background: When discussing Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” some people focus on the potentially illusive nature of the world (i.e., the shadows), or on the interaction between a seeker of truth and society (i.e., the guards and the other prisoners).  

Perhaps the chains in Plato’s allegory deserve more attention.  It’s impossible to identify the chains on our perception of reality, unless one presumes to already know life’s ultimate truths with philosophical certitude. Nevertheless, this problem need not be a conversation killer regarding the impact of chains on perception.

If we accept the physical world (extension) as real, we can still examine the “chains” that distort our perception of it.

Examples of these chains include: optical illusions, semiotic codes, language, and personal experience/connections that the perceiver projects onto the thing being perceived

These examples can be addresses in a lecture/discussion format, but an interactive task would help young students to connect with the topic.  For example, when students are asked to draw a photorealistic rendering of the American flag in the classroom, their failure stems mostly from their tendency to draw their mental construct of the flag rather than the actual flag in the room.  Thus, the flag reminds us that familiarity with an iconic image may actually make a particular object less visible.

A second demonstration could be the work of Aaron Koblin (e.g., the Johnny Cash Project), who creates interactive websites which allow visitors to contribute to the final product presented on the sight.  His work raises questions about the distinction between the artist and the audience, as well as questions about art-as-creation vs. art-as-experience.

Returning to Plato, he insisted that we could never experience the Forms in the physical world, only vague copies of the Forms.  Thus, art, like all other things, is never fully perceived by people.  But why single out art for specific criticism, as opposed to chairs or trees, which are also weak imitations of Forms?  

Possible answer:  We have to work diligently to shed the chains, or at least always be contemplating the chains, but art forces even the most disciplined minds to lose sight of that task.  It is about the feeling that the image of the art brings to an observer’s brain.  While people may argue that they can remain

dispassionate about artifacts, typical human behavior suggests otherwise.  Examples of objects that elicited a visceral reaction from people included

Duchamp’s urinal,

“Piss Christ,”

the “Levitating Mass,” and

Richard Tuttle’s wire pieces.  

Typically, it was the identification of these objects as art that engaged people more than the objects in and of themselves.  Are these attempts at art being treated as the Form of art?  When people revere certain attempts at art by placing these attempts in museums, or by assigning a dollar value to them, people seem to be saying that the object has become art, transcending the physical and the metaphysical realms.  This transcendence is what Plato insists is impossible, and this might be why Plato considered the topic of art to be a particular chain that needed explicit discussion.

Finally, the topic of art is relevant to the conference’s overarching theme of social justice.  The practice of labeling artworks as either legitimate or illegitimate speaks as much to the sociopolitical environment in which the works exist as it does to the objects themselves.


Gary Bartlett
Bio:

Gary Bartlett is an associate professor of philosophy at Central Washington University, in Ellensburg, Washington. His research has centered mostly on the philosophy of mind, especially on questions about consciousness and mental ontology. More recently, however, he has been developing an interest in philosophy for children. That interest has so far been more theoretical than practical, though he hopes this will change. Meanwhile, the interest in P4C has in turn led him to start thinking about pedagogical issues and the philosophy of education more generally, especially as these areas intersect with critical thinking and epistemology.

Children and Epistemic Injustice

Abstract:

In Epistemic Injustice, Miranda Fricker introduced the eponymous concept of an injustice done to a person in their capacity as a knower.1 In particular, testimonial injustice involves denigration of a person’s credibility. There is an aspect of racism and sexism: blacks and women are doubted or disbelieved in situations where whites or males are readily believed.

Two recent articles extend Fricker’s analysis to children. Karen Murris argues that testimonial injustice occurs in educations contexts: “teachers do not believe a child because it is a child speaking.”2 Michael Burroughs and Deborah Tollefsen claim that epistemic injustice against children is widespread, but specifically discuss the forensic or legal context, where children are stereotyped as “especially suggestible, untrustworthy, and incompetent.”3 Both articles contend that children are assumed to be less credible than adults, and that this assumption is mere prejudice.

These authors are onto something, but I think their critique is misdirected. While I agree that children are subjected to epistemic injustice, is not testimonial injustice. To the contrary, I think that children are rightly seen as less credible than adults. Their limited experience makes them especially liable to making inaccurate judgments.

Murris’s main example is bit of dialogue from a documentary on P4C in which a child says that a perfectly peaceful world is undesirable because then “we would go round saying ‘hiya’ drinking cups of coffee all the time…always being nice to each other. That wouldn’t be right.”4 The line reliably elicits laughter from adult viewers of the documentary. This, Murris says, illustrates testimonial injustice, for the child’s statement “does not seem to touch teachers' belief that peace is a goal towards which we should naturally strive."5 I suggest, however, that we should not be concerned that adults viewing the documentary find this statement amusing rather than credible. Like Michael Hand, I find the laughter “an apt response to the characterization of peaceful citizens as high-fiving coffee swiggers.”6

What would be a concern is if this statement were to elicit laughter from a facilitator in a P4C discussion. But even then, such a response would not constitute testimonial injustice. For our epistemic obligations toward children, even in P4C practice, surely do not extend to regarding everything that children say as credible. To find the correct characterization of this kind of epistemic injustice, I turn to a commentary on Fricker’s book by Christopher Hookway.7

1 Miranda Fricker (2007), Epistemic injustice: power and the ethics of knowing. OUP.

2 Karen Murris (2013). The epistemic challenge of hearing child’s voice. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 32(3); p. 248

3 Michael Burroughs and Deborah Tollefsen (2016), ‘Learning to listen: epistemic injustice and the child.’ Episteme, 13(3); p. 366.

4 Murris, ibid., p. 250.

5 Ibid., p. 51.

6 Michael Hand (2015), ‘What do kids know? A response to Karen Murris, ‘Studies in Philosophy and Education, 34(3); p. 329.

7 Christopher Hookway (2010). ‘Some varieties of epistemic injustice: reflections on Fricker.’ Episteme, 7(2).


Martha Beck
Bio:

Dr. Martha Beck has a Ph. D. from Bryn Mawr College and teaches philosophy at Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. Her classes include World Philosophies, Western Thought, Women's Issues, Logic, Environmental Ethics, The Legacy of Ancient Greek civilization, Plato, and Philosophy of Art.  She has published extensively in various aspects of Greek philosophy and culture. She has a You Tube channel, "M. Beck Ph. D. Philosophy" with 76 videos and 6 Playlists that all focus on the theme, "The Legacy of Ancient Greek Civilization in the Era of Globalization." She has taught summer school in Prague, been a visiting professor in Beijing, and taught twice in Indonesia, once as a Fulbright Fellow and a second time on a grant from the Indonesian government.

Social Justice and Aristotle’s Theory of the Virtues and Vices: The Source of the Problem or the Path toward a Solution?

Abstract:

Some of Aristotle’s claims—his defense of natural slaves and his understanding of women as defective women—seem to completely discount him from any meaningful discussion of social justice, especially of racial and gender equality. On the other hand, prominent public intellectuals like Martha Nussbaum in her book, “Women and Human Development,” explain the value and applicability Aristotle’s description of human flourishing today. She explains the connection between Aristotle and the “Capabilities” model for human development used by the United Nations to evaluate the relative justice or injustice of each nation today. Amartya Sen, professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard, received a Nobel Prize for developing the Capabilities model.

This presentation will briefly describe the virtue and vice and explain Aristotle’s view of character training, beginning at a young age and continuing throughout life. From a very young age, children have to learn self-control, how to control impulses related to pleasure and pain, and courage in responding to situations that trigger fear. Over time, human beings become of part of more and more complex social systems. They learn to be even-tempered and generous. They develop friendships that affect their character development, or better or worse.

All the choices of a completely mature, wise adult are caused by the power of the soul Aristotle calls “mind” (nous). A wise person chooses what is best in situations involving ambition, pride, wealth, human, sociability, and self-knowledge. In relation to people he or she does not know personally, a wise person knows how to make good laws, including those involving the distribution of social goods (wealth, education health care, transportation, etc.), the rectification of wrong (criminal law), application of laws to particular situations. Wise people know that they need to raise their children to exercise the virtues because social and political well-being depend upon individual virtue. A just society is one in which everyone is given the opportunity to flourish to the highest level possible, based on the society’s resources and the citizens’ abilities. The ultimate goal of a wise person is to pass down a stable family, social networks that promote flourishing and laws and institutions that continually promote the largest and most stable middle class possible in any nation at any one time.

This presentation will encourage elementary and middle school teachers to think about examples and situations students can imagine and discuss that demand the exercise of one or more of these virtues. The advantage of Aristotle’s philosophy is that it dissects common sense into all of its parts, shows how we need to exercise all of these virtues, and explains how easily we, too, can get it wrong. Aristotle’s model gives us the theoretical framework necessary to live more examined lives, from childhood to old age.


Mitch Bickman
Bio:

Mitch Bickman received his undergraduate degree in History and Education from the University of Michigan, and his Masters degree from Hofstra University. Mr. Bickman is currently the Director of Social Studies, K-12 in the Oceanside School District in Oceanside, N.Y. Mr. Bickman has worked to build interdisciplinary experiences for teachers and students, partnering with colleagues in ELA and Science. He has led the successful implementation of Big History at Oceanside, and has helped this program win the NYSEC Program of Excellence, and Collaborators of Excellence Awards in recent years. He has also implemented Big Ideas for Little Kids, a program where high school students teach philosophy through picture books to students as young as kindergarten, based on the work of Dr. Thomas Wartenberg and his book, Big Ideas for Little Kids. His latest focus has been on having teachers in grades K-12 develop their own Inquiries with an emphasis on Taking Informed action. Mr. Bickman is also the recipient of the 2016 New York State Social Studies Supervisory Association’s (NYSCSS & NYS4A) Supervisor of the Year Award. This award is given to professionals who have demonstrated the highest commitment to social studies education in New York State and have established innovative and effective supervisory techniques.

Methods for Engaging Children in Philosophical Discussion

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Laura Trongrad

Philosophy for All, inspired by Thomas Wartenberg’s Big Ideas for Little Kids is a unique program where Oceanside High School students visit elementary classrooms using picture books to tap into children’s natural abstract thinking and begin to provide a framework for helping students to develop reasoning skills.  Picture books provide a natural point of entry into which to begin to dissect, wrestle with, and discuss big ideas and questions that surround students in their lives.  The goal is for students to build a framework for questioning and thinking about things more critically by asking questions to better understand their world. 

The true power of Oceanside’s program was recognized by putting it in the hands of high school students. Whereas Professor Wartenberg trains his college students to facilitate this work, Oceanside adapted Thomas Wartenberg’s work by training high school students to facilitate these philosophical discussions. The assumption by many was that high school students with no formal philosophical background could not execute such challenging work, but as our videos attest to, high school students shined in this role, facilitating engaging philosophical discussions with Oceanside’s K-6 students. Having the ability to interact with children at the other end of the K-12 spectrum is unique and adds an element to this program that strengthens the process of learning at all levels.

Over the course of this past school year ELA and Social Studies teachers worked together to train a cohort of sixty high school sophomores to lead philosophical discussions. After training these students, we brought them to work with students in grades K-6, and through the lens of books such as The Important Book, Emily’s Art, and Frog and Toad “Dragons and Giants,” we began the process of building a framework for thinking and questioning for our youngest learners. Since we introduced this program into our elementary schools, teachers in these classrooms have noticed students using reasoning with greater frequency to support their answers, as well as students being more reflective when taking part in class discussions. In addition, students now regularly use phrases such as “I respectfully disagree” when responding to their classmates.


Paul Bodin
Bio:

Paul Bodin worked for twenty-five years as an elementary and middle school classroom teacher in Eugene, Oregon public schools. As an educator, Paul and many of his colleagues believed in the importance of bringing critical thinking opportunities to students during studies in civics, history, literature and the arts.

 

Since retiring from public school teaching, Paul has taught undergraduate courses in the Philosophy Department at the University of Oregon. His seminar students facilitate discussions with children who attend second through fifth grade in local public schools, with active participation from classroom teachers. Weekly discussion topics connect to themes of identity and change (metaphysics), moral choices that confront friends (ethics), the nature of artistic creativity and experience (aesthetics), colliding interests in human-animal relations (political philosophy), issues of gender identity, and discussions about knowledge and perception (epistemology). The undergraduates in this course model different ways for children to express reasoned opinions, to respond to opposing claims made by peers, to revise initial assumptions, and to support the underlying spirit of critical collaboration.

During May 2016, Paul and fellow colleagues at the U.O. Philosophy Department organized a public event in Eugene that brought together classroom and university educators, the general public, and representatives from pre-college philosophy programs in London, England and Seattle, Washington. In the spring of 2017, the Philosophy Department added a new undergraduate seminar taught by Paul that focuses on the practice of philosophical inquiry in middle and high school classrooms.

Using Role Play Simulations to Deepen Children’s Philosophical Discussion

Abstract:

During the past four years leading and observing children’s discussions in our undergraduate outreach to Eugene public school classrooms, questions sometimes came up that invited participants to think empathetically, to consider alternative approaches, or to imagine a bigger picture. This was especially the case during discussions in ethics, where children examined choices made by stakeholders who represented rigid positions during times of social conflict involving a clash of ideas or a scarcity of resources. Examples of these kinds of philosophical questions included:

What would it feel like to be in __________ shoes? How would you react to this idea if you were _________? Does your claim impact every community the same way? What would someone else say if ____________? What would be the long-term consequence of your claim? Is what you’re saying the right way to act under all circumstances? Is everyone equally to blame here?

This proposed workshop presents a curriculum that combines classroom studies in history or contemporary social issues with dramatic improvisation. Role play simulations, as presented in this workshop, are sometimes used in high school classrooms but are rarely used by teachers at the elementary or middle school level. The purpose of this workshop is to present a pedagogy of role play that fits elementary and middle school curriculum; to give workshop members a chance to experience a role play simulation firsthand; to critique the emotional and cognitive

impact of role play on participants; and to explore its use as a way to deepen philosophical discussions of topics related to social justice. One premise of this workshop is that structured role play focusing on historical and contemporary events can be an effective lens at viewing different perspectives with greater complexity and nuance, and that role play can add depth and engagement to philosophical circle discussions with children and teens.

As Bill Bigelow, author and curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools magazine, has said: “Role plays allow students to see themselves as social actors, to realize that what they do in the world matters; that they are not simply objects to be thrown about by some remote process called History. And in terms of role plays dealing with contemporary conflicts, they can understand how people can use agency and community alliances to affect political and economic change.

The intent of a role play is never to suggest that all points of view are equally valid. It’s essential that key interests in a particular issue be represented, not necessarily so students can hear ‘all points of view’ but so they can dissect the relationship between people’s social conditions and their ideas.

Most importantly, role plays are dynamic, unpredictable, improvisational experiences. Once your students have had a chance to study their role, and to understand the underlying facts and key questions in an event or issue, it’s time for them to interact with others without a script that tells them what to say or how to respond. They “become” a person in history or a person participating in a community conflict. They represent this person’s family history or work ethic or demographic. And they remain open to the ideas of others who may be persuasive or who present compelling evidence that simply cannot be ignored.”

Three handouts prepared by the presenter describing role play pedagogy: 1. “How to Create Your Own Role Plays” With excerpts from Bill Bigelow, Rethinking Schools 2. “Easy Steps in How to Create Your Own Role Play” 3. “Comparisons Between Teacher-Directed and Student-Centered Curriculum”

Three original role play simulations developed by the presenter for upper elementary and middle school teachers and their students. Each role play includes a teacher’s guide, separate stakeholder handouts, fact sheets and historical background.

1. “Freedom of Speech at McKenzie River Elementary School”

A fictional simulation based on the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court case, 1988.

2. “Conflict Over Water in the Klamath Basin”

A fictional simulation based on water rights and land use conflicts between indigenous tribes and ranchers who live along the Klamath watershed in southeast Oregon.

3. “The Spruce Valley Town Hall Meeting”

A fictional simulation based on an environmental incident from 2013 in a rural Oregon community involving aerial spraying of herbicides over agricultural lands.


Kelli Braley
Bio:

Kelli Braley received her bachelor’s degree in Classics from the University of New Hampshire in 2007. The following fall she began teaching Souhegan High School in Amherst, NH. Her focus lies in Aristotelian rhetoric through the works of Cicero and the development of leadership skills in adolescents. Both interests coincide in Souhegan’s Ethics Forum, which Kelli co-advises. The Ethics Forum hosts and participates in a wide range of local, state and regional events including most notably the HYPE or Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts Conference and the LEAP or Leadership Empowering Authentic Progress Conference.

Introducing HYPE: Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Christopher Brooks & Erich Dietel

This presentation is intended to introduce PLATO Conference attendees to a unique high school initiative in philosophical education and encourage them to consider partnering with us in spreading the program beyond New England.

In 2009, my Ethics students at Souhegan High School, Amherst, New Hampshire, made a surprising request: Can we talk philosophy outside of class with other high school students? That question was the start of a “grassroots” philosophy program called HYPE - “Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts.” In 2010, we held the first conference with three participating schools and just over 100 students. Since then, the HYPE program has evolved into a New England regional event held at the University of New Hampshire, Durham. In 2016, 1060 students attended, representing 28 schools from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont. We already anticipate 1300 students from over 35 schools for the 2017 conference.

So what makes HYPE so special? HYPE’s foundation was built on a student-faculty team effort, a shared vision with my students. HYPE is structured around the principle of student-to-student dialogue on philosophical topics and is completely student-run. The leadership team, comprised of students from Souhegan and two other regional schools, plans the entire conference and learns valuable leadership skills by working in committees that organize conference elements ranging from room arrangement and food, to grant writing and content selection. They work with me and our other HYPE faculty coordinator, Kelli Braley, and faculty from a coalition of colleges and universities in New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts that have partnered with us. HYPE has galvanized philosophy teachers from across the region to share ideas, learn from each other and prepare students to participate in a way that demonstrates the value of philosophical inquiry through peer discussion at the high school level. HYPE exposes students, who have limited access to philosophy courses, to philosophical content. The program aims to support students, teachers and schools by giving them resources to aid their own work in the classroom.

In the last seven years, HYPE’s value has been recognized with numerous awards, sponsorships, and grants, among them the Responsible Governance and Sustainable Citizenship Project Award and the Granite State Award from the NH University System. The University of New Hampshire, Durham has officially integrated HYPE into its philosophy department’s programs to bridge pre-college and college philosophical learning. More recently, HYPE partnered with the University of New Orleans to produce mini-conferences under the guidance of faculty from the UNO’s Alexis De Tocqueville Project. This progress has situated HYPE as a lead educational program in the State of New Hampshire. The ongoing support HYPE has received from the NH Humanities Council in the form of grants and joint-projects has fundamentally contributed to its continued growth, and in 2016, HYPE received a Pulitzer Arts Foundation Grant to build on the theme of freedom of speech. HYPE is poised to expand as it continues to realize the success of engaging students in philosophical discussion.


Marisol Brito
Bio:

Marisol Brito is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Metropolitan State University. In addition to teaching courses in feminist epistemology, critical race theory, and gender studies, Marisol works with local K-12 schools to expand philosophy beyond the university, and to bring young people into university classrooms to add their voices to discussions of race, gender, sexuality, education, and the rights of young people. Marisol is a new member of the APA Committee on Pre-College Instruction in Philosophy and is looking forward to more philosophy, everywhere, all the time.

Half a Promise

Abstract:

Philosophy’s obscure and erudite cultural status gives it a peculiar power: imbuing young students with a sense of ownership over philosophy is akin to giving them a sense of ownership over higher education. There are, of course, other important benefits of pre-college philosophy programs. However, in an age when we are struggling to allow our universities the privilege of representing the diversity of the country they inhabit, there is good reason to focus on seeking creative and innovative ways to give underrepresented students a sense of ownership over institutions that have been, for far too long, reifying oppression.

Though I maintain my conviction that pre-college philosophy can do important work in empowering underrepresented students toward college, I have become deeply concerned that we are not fully recognizing what we are leading these students toward. If we want to welcome underrepresented students into our college courses, we must face the historical construction of our discipline, the lack of diversity of our canon, and the weaknesses of our heroes. This work is especially essential as we claim that philosophy can empower students unlikely to seem themselves and their experiences reflected in the current iteration of the discipline.

This presentation will address concerns about the discipline raised by contemporary philosophers of color, including Minna Salami, Kristi Dotson, and George Yancy. Further, I will call for changes and self-reflection as we approach our canon, our curriculum, our courses, our hiring practices, and our understanding of what voices belonging in philosophy. When we encourage pre-college students toward academia and philosophy, we make an implicit promise that they will be welcome there. We must fulfill this promise. In short, if we are, in good faith, encouraging underrepresented students toward philosophy, we must at the same time commit to the substantive work of diversifying the discipline.


Christopher Brooks
Bio:

Christopher Brooks is a senior level social studies teacher at Souhegan High School in Amherst, NH, and a professor of ethics and leadership at Northeastern University, Boston, MA. At Souhegan, Brooks teaches ethics to seniors in a unique college credit program founded in 1997. Since 2007, Brooks has taught courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level for Northeastern University and Swinburne University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and also holds positions at Granite State College, Concord, NH, Merrimack College, North Andover, MA, and the New Hampshire Institute of Art, Manchester, NH. This past fall, Brooks began working with the University of New Orleans Alexis De Tocqueville Project and received an appointment as an affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of New Hampshire, Durham.

In 2003, Brooks was awarded the Humanities Teacher of the Year award in the state of New Hampshire. That year, he was also awarded a New Hampshire Excellence in Education Award through the NH Humanities Council. In 2009, Brooks, in collaboration with other Souhegan High School faculty and students, founded HYPE (Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts)—a program devoted to giving all students the opportunity to participate in student-directed small group conversations centered on important philosophical topics. Because of the program’s growth and success, HYPE has received a number of awards including the Granite State Award from the NH University System in 2014 and a Pulitzer Arts Foundation Grant through the NH Humanities Council in 2015.

Introducing HYPE: Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Kelli Braley & Erich Dietel

This presentation is intended to introduce PLATO Conference attendees to a unique high school initiative in philosophical education and encourage them to consider partnering with us in spreading the program beyond New England.

In 2009, my Ethics students at Souhegan High School, Amherst, New Hampshire, made a surprising request: Can we talk philosophy outside of class with other high school students? That question was the start of a “grassroots” philosophy program called HYPE - “Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts.” In 2010, we held the first conference with three participating schools and just over 100 students. Since then, the HYPE program has evolved into a New England regional event held at the University of New Hampshire, Durham. In 2016, 1060 students attended, representing 28 schools from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont. We already anticipate 1300 students from over 35 schools for the 2017 conference.

So what makes HYPE so special? HYPE’s foundation was built on a student-faculty team effort, a shared vision with my students. HYPE is structured around the principle of student-to-student dialogue on philosophical topics and is completely student-run. The leadership team, comprised of students from Souhegan and two other regional schools, plans the entire conference and learns valuable leadership skills by working in committees that organize conference elements ranging from room arrangement and food, to grant writing and content selection. They work with me and our other HYPE faculty coordinator, Kelli Braley, and faculty from a coalition of colleges and universities in New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts that have partnered with us. HYPE has galvanized philosophy teachers from across the region to share ideas, learn from each other and prepare students to participate in a way that demonstrates the value of philosophical inquiry through peer discussion at the high school level. HYPE exposes students, who have limited access to philosophy courses, to philosophical content. The program aims to support students, teachers and schools by giving them resources to aid their own work in the classroom.

In the last seven years, HYPE’s value has been recognized with numerous awards, sponsorships, and grants, among them the Responsible Governance and Sustainable Citizenship Project Award and the Granite State Award from the NH University System. The University of New Hampshire, Durham has officially integrated HYPE into its philosophy department’s programs to bridge pre-college and college philosophical learning. More recently, HYPE partnered with the University of New Orleans to produce mini-conferences under the guidance of faculty from the UNO’s Alexis De Tocqueville Project. This progress has situated HYPE as a lead educational program in the State of New Hampshire. The ongoing support HYPE has received from the NH Humanities Council in the form of grants and joint-projects has fundamentally contributed to its continued growth, and in 2016, HYPE received a Pulitzer Arts Foundation Grant to build on the theme of freedom of speech. HYPE is poised to expand as it continues to realize the success of engaging students in philosophical discussion.


Michael Burroughs
Bio:

Michael D. Burroughs is Associate Director of the Rock Ethics Institute, Senior Lecturer of Philosophy, and an Affiliate Faculty Member in the College of Education at Penn State University. Michael has published widely in the areas of ethics, social epistemology, and the philosophy of education, including his recent co-authored book Philosophy in Education: Questioning and Dialogue in Schools (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Michael is also Vice President of the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization.

Childism and Pre-College Philosophy: A Response to Child-Centered Prejudice

Abstract:

In their 1975 article, “Childism,” Pierce and Allen began to develop an account of a distinct, child-centered prejudice. Childism, as defined in this article, is “the automatic presumption of superiority of any adult over any child,” resulting in “the adult’s needs, desires, hopes, and fears
taking unquestioned precedence over those of the child” (15). Other authors and social commentators have continued to identify and develop accounts of child-centered prejudice in distinct domains of social life, including medicine (Carel and Gyorffy, 2014; Young-Bruehl,
2009), law (Burroughs and Tollefsen, 2016), and education (Murris, 2013). Others, such as Jahoda (1999) and Nandy (1987), present an account of the concept of childhood and its political adoption to justify practices of imperialism, colonization, and enslavement.


In this presentation I will offer a synthesis of current accounts of child-centered prejudice and offer a unified account of childism. This task is significant in its own right given (1) the several, disparate accounts of child-centered prejudice that currently exist, (2) the need for understanding – collectively and across these different approaches – how forms of prejudice impact the lives of
children and, further, (3) means for working against child-centered prejudice. Second, and in relation to this theoretical account, I will discuss the role of educational practice (specifically in the form of pre-college philosophy and communities of inquiry) as a paradigmatic example of
how adults can engage children in non-prejudicial ways. I will argue that pre-college philosophy and related practitioners offer a means of combatting child-centered prejudice, that is, by engaging children as valued partners in dialogue and by supporting a conception of childhood as
an active, creative, and philosophically rich stage of life. To concretize this account, I will provide curricular examples from my current education research project – “Philosophical Ethics in Early Childhood” (PEECh) – which centers on philosophical, ethics education programming
as based in the concerns and activities of pre-school children. PEECh is currently underway in two pre-schools in Lewistown, PA, and Verona, Italy.


Stacy Cabrera
Bio:

Stacy Cabrera teaches English and Philosophy in Literature at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, CA. She is also the National Honor Society Advisor, and advisor to Young Philosophers' Society which currently advocates philosophy at the high school level and runs after-school GATE programs for elementary students in Philosophical education. Her philosophical interests include hermeneutics and literary theory and interpretation.

Philosophy in the Classroom and Community of Mira Costa High School (Poster Session)

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Hira Shah

In the age of standardized testing, philosophical inquiry in public education often falls by the wayside. Mira Costa High School of Manhattan Beach has spearheaded multiple initiatives to integrate philosophy into both the high school classroom and the surrounding community.


We are now in the second year of our Senior Philosophy in Literature course, Mira Costa’s first class focusing specifically on philosophy. A key issue in the development of public high school philosophy courses is the difficulty of selecting of texts that both provide a comprehensive
understanding of philosophy and meet school standards. Philosophy in Literature was approved as a substitute for college preparatory twelfth-grade English. The course focuses on the intersection of philosophy and literature, emphasizing questions regarding the nature of identity, belief, choice, and living. The course is divided into four units, each addressing a key philosophical question.


Nick Caltagirone
Bio:

Nick Caltagirone has taught at West Chicago Community High School since 2001 where he has taught US history, AP world history, western civilization, world studies, and philosophy. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1996, Nick wanted to offer high school students the experience of philosophical instruction, and West Chicago allowed him to create a stand-alone philosophy course in 2004. Nick has been developing philosophy curriculum for over ten years and has presented this curriculum at the National Council of Social Studies Teachers annual conference.

Your District Approved the Creation of a Philosophy Course: Now What?

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Dan Fouts

This workshop will focus on the idea that in order to increase pre-collegiate students’ exposure to philosophical inquiries the next step is getting approval for and creating a stand-alone philosophy class at the high school level. The goal of this workshop is twofold. First, the facilitators will share their experiences teaching stand-alone philosophy classes. Secondly, and more importantly, the participants will be able to craft various stages of a philosophy curriculum and share ideas with each other and the facilitators. Specific portions of this workshop can be scaled back or increased depending on the logistical realities of time and number of participants. Further, the facilitators will be able to adjust the emphasis of workshop stages based on the needs of the participants. For instance, if most of the attendees already have courses approved and in place, the facilitators can focus more attention on later portions of the workshop such as assessment.   

In the first stage of this workshop, the participants will articulate the reasons a district would include a philosophy course at the high school level, and how inclusion of such a course is a great way to serve the needs of certain students who may feel left out of school or who need to be challenged in a different way. In this sense, a philosophy class could provide a way to validate the intelligence of underserved students. Using the CCSS as a basis, participants will be able to link specific standards and parts of a philosophy curriculum. The facilitators will offer advice on how they each were able to get philosophy classes to run in their respective schools, and participants will be able to work on crafting proposals to potentially bring back to their school districts.

The next portion of this workshop will center on how to structure a stand-alone philosophy class. The facilitators will share each of their organizational structures and participants will work to craft potential syllabi. Areas for consideration will include, but not necessarily be limited to: historical organization, thematic organization, use of anchor texts, use of supplemental texts, and use of primary texts.

Additionally, this workshop will focus on how to engage students in philosophical inquiry. The facilitators will lead the participants through an abridged lesson and share various assessment methods. Participants will then be able to work on creating a lesson tied to a specific portion of their previously designed organizational structure, and a potential assessment to gauge student learning. Facilitators will provide a range of sources to act as the foundation for lesson creation, and myriad sources and materials will be shared with attendees through a Google Drive folder.

The next portion of this workshop will have participants discuss potential ways to bring philosophy out of the classroom. The facilitators will share what they have done to make philosophy relevant away from the specific context of philosophy class, including after school philosophy clubs, and interdisciplinary approaches that link the philosophy curriculum with the work students are doing in their other classes.

In the final stage devoted to a stand-alone philosophy class, facilitators will share some of the potential difficulties in teaching a high school philosophy class including the challenges of varied reading levels of students, teaching controversial subjects, balancing academic philosophy with lived philosophy, and keeping to a student-centered curriculum.

Our goal for this workshop is for participants to walk away with more than clear ideas as to why a high school philosophy class is beneficial to students. We also want participants to be prepared to pursue approval for a stand-alone philosophy class. Additionally, we want participants to be able to leave the workshop with tangible materials that will help them create an organizational structure, design lessons, and craft assessments appropriate for a high school philosophy course.


Cheri Lynne Carr
Bio:

Cheri Lynne Carr is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at CUNY’s LaGuardia Community College. A graduate of the University of Memphis, Dr. Carr’s research focuses on Ethics, Feminism, Philosophy for Children, and contemporary French philosophy. Her forthcoming book, Deleuze’s Kantian Ethos: Critique as a Way of Life, explores the potential for a new form of ethical life based on the ideal of critique as the self-perpetuating evaluation of values (Edinburgh, 2017). She is currently working on developing a Philosophy for Children outreach initiative at LaGuardia and co-editing a volume on Schizoanalysis and Feminism that calls on the legacy of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari for new conceptual alliances to aid in the revitalization of feminist practices (Bloomsbury, 2018).

Philosophy with Children and the Heightening of Critical Consciousness: What Community College Can Teach Educators About Inclusiveness

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Shannon Proctor & Dana Trusso

The Philosophy for Children (P4C) movement begun in the 1970s by Matthew Lipman is evolving. This evolution responds to concerns that while the P4C model explicitly champions a learner-centric and anti-authoritarian pedagogy, it inadvertently replicates the unacknowledged conformity and unstated privileges of the U.S.’s largely Euro-centric academic philosophical tradition. For example, Lipman’s research in the late 1970s and 80s concluded that already well-educated teachers nevertheless need a full year of P4C course work before they were prepared to make a real difference in their students’ reading and reasoning ability. [1] Lipman’s influence has been decisive on this issue. Until just a few months ago the pre-eminent guide to creating a P4C outreach program explicitly stated that graduate-level departments were the best fit for P4C outreach. If you search for models of P4C programs in community colleges, they do not exist. Luckily, not everyone agrees with Lipman about the amount of preparation necessary to effectively facilitate P4C. Thomas Wartenberg argued in 2009 that “[y]ou don’t have to know any philosophy to teach it.” [2] Indeed, Wartenberg suggests that if P4C instructors can teach children how to discuss philosophical issues, the instructors “will discover what philosophy is from helping [their] students discuss it.” [2] Wartenberg’s position is consistent with a conception of Community of Inquiry (CPI) that does not rely heavily on an authoritarian pedagogical model. Instead, it is understood that a community of inquiry is formed by student-facilitators acting as fully invested members of the community, still searching for answers, and possessed primarily of the skills of listening and questioning. This conception of the community of inquiry emphasizes thoughtfulness, open-mindedness, creativity, and respectful dialogue over reasonableness-oriented progress. It also facilitates the larger project of P4C’s evolution: re-orienting education towards its own de-colonization. To achieve the goal of genuine community of inquiry, dedication to problematizing the Euro-centric models of what counts as philosophical discourse, proper critique, and reasonableness that lay hidden within current P4C models is necessary. Building on the work Shannon Proctor and I began in the “Agora Initiative Feasibility Study” and the North American Association for the Community of Inquiry conference, my work here develops new models of P4C based in community colleges as a vibrant and untapped resource for course correcting P4C from within. These new models are based in rethinking the ideal characteristics of P4C facilitators and their standard norms of engagement to facilitate greater inclusiveness in cultivating shared autonomous critical thinking through cultivating the community of inquiry. Bringing two-year, community college students into the classroom to lead P4C discussions will produce a double pedagogical effect: students help children develop their critical reasoning skills while improving their own philosophical reasoning via their teaching. This will lead students to interrogation of the norms of philosophy generally, prevailing conceptions of the ‘philosopher’ and the broader value of philosophical practice for our communities and schools. Ideally, as scholars and as members of the community of inquiry we hope to create, we will also be in a position to learn a great deal from our community college students about how to make P4C practices more inclusive.

 

[1] “On Philosophy in the Curriculum: A Conversation with Matthew Lipman” Ron Brandt, p36, September 1988 Educational Leadership vol 46, n. 1 p34-37

 

[2] Wartenberg, Thomas. Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy Through Children’s Literature. R & L Education, 2009 P. 8.


Alexandra Chang
Bio:

Alexandra Chang is currently pursuing her Masters in Education and license to become an English teacher with the Boston Teacher Residency in Boston, MA. She earned her B.A. from Carleton College in 2016 where, together with Prof. Daniel Groll, she developed a philosophy course for Carleton students to teach philosophy to young children, as well as an after-school philosophy club. During her time at Carleton, Alex pursued research in existentialism, philosophy of the mind, and philosophy of education. She also worked as a fellow for the Center for Community and Civic Engagement and led a student-run organization for educational activism. She is particularly interested in exploring how philosophy can be used to heighten student engagement and academic achievement, and hopes to bring her passion for philosophy to her career with the Boston Public Schools.

Phil with Chil: A Carleton College Outreach Program

Abstract:

In the Spring of 2015, the philosophy department at Carleton College started offering an annual course called “Philosophy with Children.” Modeled on a similar course pioneered by Thomas Wartenberg at Mt Holyoke College, “Phil with Chil” (as the students now call it) gives Carleton students an opportunity to do philosophy with children at Northfield’s most diverse (ethnically, socially, and economically) elementary school.

But while the course is modeled after Prof. Wartenberg’s program, it departs from it in two significant ways. The purpose of this presentation is to identify the challenges that arise with these two departures from the “standard” model and to reflect on how we have dealt with them. In doing so, we hope to provide a compelling model for how to effectively “stretch” the wonderful program that Prof. Wartenberg has developed.

The first big departure of our program from Prof. Wartenberg’s has to do with the age of the students we are doing philosophy with. While Prof. Wartenberg’s program has been deployed in 2nd grade classrooms and above, we have visited first grade classrooms. This presents a number of particular challenges - most notably, when it comes to guiding and sustaining a genuinely philosophical discussion. First graders, and younger, have an especially hard time knowing, or caring about, what constitutes a legitimate “move” in a discussion and so discussion facilitators need to be especially aware of how to scaffold discussion questions and intervene to gently (or sometimes not so gently!) nudge discussions back on track.

The second difference between our course and the “standard” course is it’s length: due Carleton’s 9.5 week terms, the “Phil with Chil” course is considerably shorter than that proposed as a model on the Teaching Children Philosophy website.[1]  The shortened course length presents unique challenges in terms of preparing college students to do philosophy with children while nonetheless offering a rigorous, philosophically rich college-level course. Really preparing college students to run an effective program with first graders proved to be more demanding, and time-consuming, than we initially anticipated. The result was that we needed to change how we introduced philosophical rigor and depth into the course for the college students.

Understanding the nature of these two differences from the standard model and how we dealt with them will, we hope, be helpful to other program directors who want to introduce a slightly non-standard philosophy with children program at the elementary school level.


Darren Chetty
Bio:

Darren Chetty is currently completing a PhD in Philosophy for Children and ‘race’/racism at University College London Institute of Education, where he is a Teaching Fellow.

 

He is the recipient of The Biennial Award for Excellence in Interpreting Philosophy for Children from the International Council for Philosophical Inquiry with Children (ICPIC) for his paper “The Elephant in the Room: Picturebooks, Philosophy for Children and Racism.” His co-authored chapter, with Professor Judith Suissa “‘No Go Areas’: Racism and Discomfort in the Community of Inquiry” was published in the Routledge Handbook of Philosophy for Children. Darren’s chapter “'You Can’t Say That! Stories Have To Be About White People!'” is featured in “The Good Immigrant” (Unbound Press), a collection of 21 essays by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers. The book was shortlisted for the UK National Book Awards.  

 

Darren taught in London primary schools for 20 years and is P4C trainer registered with the Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education. (SAPERE). He is co-chair of the Committee on Race and Ethnicity of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (PESGB). He convenes the UK #HipHopEd Seminar series which brings together teachers, hip-hop artists, youth-workers, poets, and academics to discuss the intersection of hip-hop culture and education. Darren co-hosts a monthly Hip-Hop talk show on Soho Radio.

Reasonable Racism

Abstract:

I take it that in a democratic society there is a maximum premium on the cultivation of reasonableness. The goal of education should therefore be the development of reasonable individuals.” Matthew Lipman

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw

For Matthew Lipman, the creator of the original Philosophy for Children (P4C) programme, education for reasonableness entails the “cultivation of higher-order thinking” by which he means “the combination of critical and creative thinking”. (Lipman 1991:64-5). Lipman advocates reasonableness as a way of negotiating diversity and “a world community”. Reasonableness is developed through “reasoning together, as a community and is concerned, in the pragmatist tradition, with reaching “an equitable solution, not necessarily one that is right in all details.” (Lipman 1991:16) In the classroom, the dialogic philosophical community of inquiry is for Splitter and Sharp a site of focus on the “relationships among reasons as well as relationships among reasoners.” (Splitter & Sharp 1995:7) Reasonableness is described by them as “both a goal and a form of on-going behaviour that is the cornerstone of the community of inquiry.” (Splitter & Sharp 1995:7)

The teacher’s role in the community of inquiry is described by Lipman’s successor at the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC), Maughn Gregory as to “shore up the fairness and reasonableness of the discussion.” (Gregory 2005:2).

The notion of reasonableness can be found in legal courts; in the UK as “the man on the Clapham Omnibus”. Discussing U.S. legal cases where appeals to reasonableness have been made to justify the killing of unarmed Black men on ‘self-defence’ grounds, Jody David Armour comments,

The legal definition of reasonableness is uniquely insidious in that it takes the merely typical and contingent and presents it as truth and morality, objectively construed. For example, according to legal usage, the “objective” standard of reasonableness encompasses those beliefs and attitudes that are shared by most people.” Armour 1997:26

Thus she concludes, “the reasonableness standard, in its classic formulations (e.g., the “average man”), privileges the perspective of the majority.” Armour 1997:25

How might this coupling of ‘reasonableness’ and majority perspective play out in the community of enquiry with its concern with relationships amongst reasoners? Might majority perspectives be privileged in philosophical enquiries? Perhaps not. We may note that whilst certain perspectives might be in the majority in a community of enquiry, the emphasis given to reason in P4C enables a minority perspective that is sufficiently persuasive to win over a majority. However we may also need to consider the notion of reasonableness as ‘behavior’ and consider how it might serve to limit the extent to which a person from say, a racially minoritized perspective argues, challenges and disagrees with what is taken to be ‘reasonable’ with regard to racism - or what Alexis Shotwell terms ‘racialized common sense’ (Shotwell 2011).


John Cleary
Bio:

John Cleary teaches Philosophy at Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey. His courses include the study of applied ethics for secondary school students at The Somerville Academy for Liberal Arts at Somerville High School as well as a class at The Academy for Health and Medical Science. Both programs are for the AA and AS degree respectively for high school students. John taught English, Speech/Drama, American/ World Literature and Philosophy at Watchung Hills Regional High School for many years before transitioning to teaching Philosophy with college students. He is also a professional actor, poet and folk musician. His current project investigates the relationship between the information environment and Philosophy.

Uses of Popular Culture in Teaching Philosophy

Abstract:

Information that is accessed through television, feature films and contemporary music is often viewed as irrelevant or digressive to academic study. Traditional interpretations of popular culture regard it as extraneous to teaching effectively, and because it is understood as a form of entertainment that one passively enjoys, much of it is seen as inane or beneath what is discussed and learned within a classroom setting. Responses to using popular culture in the classroom originate from an assumption that higher learning takes place within the unique demands of the discipline, and that although curricula may have some elements of inter-disciplinary analysis, assignments should be curtailed to ensure mastery and excellence within a specific subject. All this aside, how many of us have heard students describe and defend their explanations and arguments through references to songs, feature films and television programs? If the life worlds of our students are immersed in auditory—visual familiarity, what are the ways in which we can reference and utilize their experiences with and through popular culture to enhance our own subject matter and teaching? Join us in exploring how this might be possible in each of our areas of research and practice.


Allison Cohen
Bio:

Allison Cohen is an Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Philosophy teacher at Langley High School in McLean, VA. She also sponsors Langley’s Case Day program, where students engage in a mock oral argument of a case on the Supreme Court’s docket, complemented by presentations and debates on issues associated with that year's case. Allison serves on the Board of Directors for Street Law, a national nonprofit committed to preserving and enhancing civics education in our schools. Allison also serves on the Board of Directors for PLATO (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization) where she dedicates her efforts to bringing quality philosophy curricula to high schools across the nation. She is focused on improving the critical thinking skills of all students and providing strategies to integrate ethics instruction across the curriculum. Allison has presented papers at several national conferences on topics such as: critical thinking, argument diagramming, affirmative action, and genetic enhancement. She is also an adjunct professor at American University where she teaches Essentials of Effective Instruction for the Department of Education. Allison received her B.A. and M.A.Ed. from The College of William and Mary.

Can Taking Determinism Seriously Advance Social Justice || Facilitating Productive Philosophical Discussion Using Argument Diagramming

Abstract:

Can Taking Determinism Seriously Advance Social Justice

Daniel Dennett warns us, “Stop telling people they don’t have free will.” I suspect that many high school philosophy teachers share this sentiment. We see the studies reporting how badly people behave once they are told there is no free will and we can just imagine our students deciding to stay home the following morning, binge-watching Netflix all day instead of coming to class, because clearly it doesn’t matter what they do; they were determined to do that anyway. So maybe we shy away from really pushing the argument. Maybe we are content to leave them pondering an interesting question but still confident in believing that their actions are the result of their own free will. This presentation will ask whether we should do more. Can taking determinism seriously advance social justice?

Far from settled, the free will/determinism debate continues. Many who are unwilling to accept determinism or indeterminism are concerned by the impact such an acceptance will have on our conceptions of moral behavior and the praise and blame awarded to particular actions. Peter Van Inwagen, for instance, concedes that accepting free will requires one to accept a mystery but worries that accepting determinism might require one to accept an even greater mystery. “I myself continue to believe that morality is an illusion if there is no free will” (2009). A related fear is that determinism calls into question our entire criminal justice system – making it impossible to punish someone for his or her actions. But is this necessarily a bad thing? Taking determinism seriously opens the door to alternative ways of thinking about punishing criminal behavior, justifications not rooted in a retributivist position.

Utilitarianism or deterrence is one such grounding, but utilitarianism comes with its own set of problems. This presentation will outline the objections to a deterrence justification for criminal punishment and argue in favor of a public health approach to quarantine and criminal behavior. This approach, put forth by Gregg Caruso and others, uses Derk Pereboom’s quarantine analogy as a starting point and builds a broader justification using the public health framework. This approach to criminal punishment preserves our right to harm in self-defense and the defense of others while prioritizing prevention with a strong emphasis on social justice. Just as we are justified in quarantining someone with Ebola, even though they haven’t done anything morally blameworthy, we can be justified in incarcerating someone who is a criminal threat to others (with the minimum harm required for the defense of self and others). But a public health model would also demand that we address, “the systemic causes of crime, such as social injustice, poverty, systemic disadvantage, mental health issues, and addiction” (Caruso, 2015).

Would this model be enough to satisfy Van Inwagen’s concerns? Maybe not. But this presentation will ask whether it might be time to move beyond a retributive system of punishment based on praise, blame, and just deserts. Can taking determinism seriously advance social justice through a public health framework for criminal punishment?


Facilitating Productive Philosophical Discussion Using Argument Diagramming

This presentation will argue for the use of argument diagramming to improve the critical thinking skills necessary to engage students in productive philosophical discussions. Most students are taught to read a text for plot, summary, rhetorical devices, or other literary techniques but students are rarely given direct instruction in reading a text for the purpose of reconstructing and analyzing the author’s argument. Recreating and analyzing an author’s argument and constructing a cogent argument of one’s own are the cornerstones of critical thinking but effectively teaching these skills has proven problematic. A review of research in this area will demonstrate that modest gains in critical thinking tend to be the norm with current methods of instruction. However, the use of argument diagramming at the university level has shown impressive results. This past year, I sought to replicate that success in a high school setting. This presentation will discuss my findings based on a pre- and post-test analysis using the Cornell Critical Thinking Test Level Z.

 

In addition to enhancing critical thinking skills, the use of argument diagramming improved the quality of philosophical discussions in my classroom. Students often come to philosophical discussions with already held deep beliefs about what is right or wrong, even when they don’t realize they have these deeply held beliefs. Their views tend to be heavily influenced by family, peers, and prevailing cultural norms, and asking students to entertain opposing viewpoints becomes problematic under these circumstances. Because of this, students are prone to engage in fallacious reasoning and display many common psychological error tendencies. Furthermore, high school students seem particularly troubled by the notion that there is no ‘right’ answer in ethical discussions, for instance, as there are for a science or math test. This idea leads to an implicit subjectivism among students where they tend to throw their hands up in the air and simply declare that everyone has his or her own opinion, so there is no use in debating the issue. In implementing argument diagramming in my classes, I found that it not only improved critical thinking skills, but it also helped to focus philosophical discussions (keeping them from going off on tangents) and combated the notion that all arguments are equally good.

 


Betsy Decyk
Bio:

Betsy Decyk is a lecturer emerita from California State University, Long Beach. At CSULB she taught in the Departments of Philosophy and Psychology, worked part-time in Faculty Development Center and, towards the end of her academic career, served as the University Ombudsperson for seven years. In 1988 she became a certified mediator with the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She has volunteered as a community mediator and and taught a variety of conflict resolution workshops. She currently serves on the Board of the Southern California Mediation Association Educational Foundation and she has recently joined a team sponsored by the Institute for Non-Violence in Los Angeles to teach peer mediation to fifth grade students at the Alexander Science Center School in LA.

Inquiries Relevant to Conflict Resolution

Abstract:

Many stories present problems and their plots involve entanglements as the situations evolve and the characters respond. These elements lend themselves to conflict resolution inquiries. Developing questions about what a character could have done differently, for example, engages brainstorming. Developing questions about how the characters are feeling, or what we are feeling when we hear their stories, encourages awareness and aspects of active listening. Developing questions about how one character interacts with another character, or how characters interact with their environments raise issues of actions in a shared world.

For this session I would like to have a conversation about philosophy-for-children inquiries using themes central to conflict resolution. What I propose to bring to the conversation are concepts and experiences in mediation and conflict resolution. What I hope that the participants will bring to the conversation are their experiences and insights with inquiry learning through stories, plays and games.

As noted above, the concepts of active listening, brainstorming and ubuntu, a South African concept that we live in a shared world, can provide a beginning scaffold for our conversation. Some books which might spark the conversation are:

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Judith Viorst) - inquiries about

recognizing and communicating feelings; inquiries about how the story could be different

What Do You Do With a Problem (Kobi Yamada) - inquiries about the one strategy the book

suggests and other possible strategies

The Lorax (Dr. Seuss) - inquiries about living in a shared environment

Dona Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart (Pat Mora) - inquiries about

feelings; inquiries about communication; inquiries about interactions in a shared world

Frog and Toad Together - “The Dream” (Arnold Lobel). - inquiries about how we shape each

other


Scott Dick
Bio:

Scott Dick is a European history teacher and former high school ethic's coach at Pritzker College Prep, a Noble charter school on the west side of Chicago. During his five years at Pritzker, he has created, coached, and finally brought a team to the first Chicago regional high school ethics bowl at the University of Chicago in 2016 as well as integrating ethical discussions into his advisory classes. Mr Dick has also helped run, judge, and moderate numerous college and high school level ethics contests and scrimmages in the Chicago area. He is currently rebuilding Pritzker's ethics team and plans to bring them again to the Chicago regional competition in the near future.

High School Ethics Bowl in Chicago: Classroom and Beyond

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Kelly Laas

Beginning in 2011, the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions and Pritzker College Prep have coached a high school ethics bowl team and sought to grow Ethics Bowl as both a teaching tool for students at the high school level and to start a regional competition for Chicago-area high schools. From 2011 to the present, the Ethics Center at Illinois Tech has hosted a summer ethics bowl competition for students participating in the Global Leaders Program on Illinois Tech’s main campus, and from 2012-2016, Scott Dick and Kelly Laas have coached the Pritzker College Prep’s Ethics Bowl team. In 2014, a small ethics bowl competition was held, which grew into a competition recognized by the National High School Ethics bowl and has been hosted by the University of Chicago’s Winning Words program in 2015 and 2016.

The Ethics Bowl combines the excitement and fun of a competitive tournament with a valuable educational experience for undergraduate students. Recognized widely by educators, the Ethics Bowl, which was developed in 1993 as a college-level competition by Robert Ladenson, Emeritus Fellow of the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, has received special commendation for excellence and innovation from the American Philosophical Association, and received the 2006 American Philosophical Association/Philosophy Documentation Center's 2006 prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs. The format, rules, and procedures of the Ethics Bowl all have been developed to model widely acknowledged best methods of reasoning in practical and professional ethics.  

During this interactive session, Kelly Laas and Scott Dick will explain the history and pedagogical merits of Ethics Bowl, how the competition can be adapted to work in a variety of class room settings to help student engage in philosophical discourse, and the audience will be asked to participate in a round of ethics bowl as competitors, moderators, and judges.


Erich Dietel
Bio:

Erich Dietel is currently a Humanities teacher at Bedford High School in Bedford, NH. Previously, Erich taught Philosophy and History courses at Spaulding High School in Rochester, NH for eight years. He was the founder and advisor of Spaulding’s Praxis Society and is currently advising a student leadership group that works with the HYPE (Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts) Conference. Erich has been involved with HYPE for seven years. His philosophical interests are found in Ethics, Existentialism, Social/Political Philosophy, and Philosophy of Religion.

Introducing HYPE: Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Christopher Brooks & Kelli Braley

This presentation is intended to introduce PLATO Conference attendees to a unique high school initiative in philosophical education and encourage them to consider partnering with us in spreading the program beyond New England.

In 2009, my Ethics students at Souhegan High School, Amherst, New Hampshire, made a surprising request: Can we talk philosophy outside of class with other high school students? That question was the start of a “grassroots” philosophy program called HYPE - “Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts.” In 2010, we held the first conference with three participating schools and just over 100 students. Since then, the HYPE program has evolved into a New England regional event held at the University of New Hampshire, Durham. In 2016, 1060 students attended, representing 28 schools from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont. We already anticipate 1300 students from over 35 schools for the 2017 conference.

So what makes HYPE so special? HYPE’s foundation was built on a student-faculty team effort, a shared vision with my students. HYPE is structured around the principle of student-to-student dialogue on philosophical topics and is completely student-run. The leadership team, comprised of students from Souhegan and two other regional schools, plans the entire conference and learns valuable leadership skills by working in committees that organize conference elements ranging from room arrangement and food, to grant writing and content selection. They work with me and our other HYPE faculty coordinator, Kelli Braley, and faculty from a coalition of colleges and universities in New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts that have partnered with us. HYPE has galvanized philosophy teachers from across the region to share ideas, learn from each other and prepare students to participate in a way that demonstrates the value of philosophical inquiry through peer discussion at the high school level. HYPE exposes students, who have limited access to philosophy courses, to philosophical content. The program aims to support students, teachers and schools by giving them resources to aid their own work in the classroom.

In the last seven years, HYPE’s value has been recognized with numerous awards, sponsorships, and grants, among them the Responsible Governance and Sustainable Citizenship Project Award and the Granite State Award from the NH University System. The University of New Hampshire, Durham has officially integrated HYPE into its philosophy department’s programs to bridge pre-college and college philosophical learning. More recently, HYPE partnered with the University of New Orleans to produce mini-conferences under the guidance of faculty from the UNO’s Alexis De Tocqueville Project. This progress has situated HYPE as a lead educational program in the State of New Hampshire. The ongoing support HYPE has received from the NH Humanities Council in the form of grants and joint-projects has fundamentally contributed to its continued growth, and in 2016, HYPE received a Pulitzer Arts Foundation Grant to build on the theme of freedom of speech. HYPE is poised to expand as it continues to realize the success of engaging students in philosophical discussion.


Christina Drogalis
Bio:

Christina Drogalis earned B.A. degrees in Philosophy and Political Science from the University of Scranton and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Loyola University Chicago. Her research interests include ethics, and particularly questions about moral improvement and education in the work of Immanuel Kant. Before joining the Stanford Online High School this year, Christina taught at Loyola University Chicago and Santa Clara University. Christina currently teaches courses on the history and philosophy of science, social and political philosophy, and the history of philosophy.

Applying Theory to Practice at Stanford Online High School

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Lisa Hicks & Jonathan Weil

At the Stanford University Online High School, our students take a sequence of interdisciplinary classes that are aimed at the development of philosophical skills. Two of our upper division courses, Democracy, Freedom, and the Rule of Law (DFRL) and Critical Reading and Argumentation (CRA), are designed to teach our students how to apply philosophical theory to practical cases. We’d like to propose a workshop in which we discuss a sample apply-theory-to-practice assignment from each class. We envision the workshop as a chance to uncover new and more effective ways of achieving the course goal.

In DFRL, one of the overarching objectives is to promote good citizenship through the development of philosophical skills. One of our general strategies to attain this goal is to introduce the students to some philosophical theory or methodology and then apply it to a political artifact, such as a political speech or court document. Through discussion, written assignments, and evaluation of this intersection of theory and application, we aim to inculcate traits of good citizenship by developing skills and knowledge relevant to participation in political discourse, evaluation of proposed policies and legislation, and political action.

One example of our use of this strategy is an assignment in which we introduce students to the method of briefing a Supreme Court case as applied to the foundational Marbury v. Madison. A pre-recorded lecture shows students the six general steps of case briefing and models the method using an abridged version of the famous case. Students are thus taught the general skill of interpreting legal briefs and are introduced to the argument supporting judicial review in concert. In the following class, we have students perform their own briefing of another case, Wisconsin v. Yoder. In class discussion, we have students work in small groups to compare their briefings, and reconvene to discuss both the briefings and the arguments in the case pitting religious freedom against the need for the state to have educated and politically competent citizens. We then assign one of the term’s major papers, which prompts the students to use previous material focused on the relationship between democracy, equality and popular sovereignty (e.g., Tocqueville, King, Jefferson) to adjudicate between the two sides in the Yoder case.

In CRA, one of our primary goals is to help students develop the resources of critical reading and reasoning, through a careful analysis of exemplary pieces of philosophical argumentation and philosophical literature. While emphasizing the cultivation of tools and strategies for careful philosophical analysis in reading and writing, course materials also encourage reflection on some of the fundamental characteristics and assumptions of ethics, religion, science, and philosophy itself in relation to both longstanding and contemporary issues and debate about them.

The moral experiment project asks students to critically consider one of three major moral frameworks (among virtue ethics, utilitarianism, and deontology) by living according to the chosen ethical system and reflecting on this experience. The first stage involves a prospectus which has two parts: (1) A careful exposition of the main tenets of the ethical theory, with a particular focus on aspects of the theory that are relevant to how it would be lived in practice; (2) a brief account of concerns facing the chosen theory, including concerns with the practical implications/implementation of the theory. The second stage comprises living the ethics as closely as possible for two days, while keeping a journal documenting the experience. Students submit the journal as an appendix to the paper. For the third stage, students write an essay that contains a critical summary of the chosen moral framework, a critical reflection upon its applicability in light of their experiences with it, and some conclusions about what they have learned about its strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. This leads to a final fourth stage, involving a revision of the essay, based on peer and instructor feedback.

After presenting these sample assignments, we plan to guide an exercise and discussion. First, we will ask participants in the workshop to discuss how they might construct assignments and readings to achieve these goals or how they’ve set up assignments to achieve similar objectives in other classes. Then, we will open the discussion to a broader conversation about the difficulties and concerns of teaching students to apply philosophical theory to practical cases. We’re interested in what techniques others use, what others find valuable and challenging about helping students to develop this skill, and how these approaches can be tailored to different types of schools and students.


Elaine E. Englehardt
Bio:

Elaine E. Englehardt is Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Professor of Philosophy at Utah Valley University.  Her PhD is in philosophy from the University of Utah. Her Ethics and Values course is required of all UVU students, and her televised version is well known throughout Utah Valley. She teaches courses in media, professional, and business ethics and has received teaching excellence awards at state and national levels.

She founded UVU’s Center for Ethics (1986), is a founding member of the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum, and was for several years co-editor (with Michael S. Pritchard) of SEAC’s Teaching Ethics.

Her books include several editions of Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Business, Ethics and Society (MacMillan), edited with Lisa Newton and Michael Pritchard; Engineering Ethics, 5th ed. (Wadsworth, 2013), with C.E. Harris, Michael S. Pritchard, Ray James and the late Michael Rabins; Obstacles to Ethical Decision-Making (Cambridge, 2013), with Patricia Werhane, Laura Hartman, Crina Archer, and Michael S. Pritchard; Ethics in Higher Education Administration (Springer 2010), ed. with Michael S. Pritchard, Kerry Romesburg and Brian Schrag, 2010;  Ethics and Life (4th ed., 2010), ed. with Donald Schmeltekopf;   Media Ethics for a Principled Society, (Wadsworth, 2002), with Ralph Barney;  Interpersonal Communication Ethics (Wadsworth, 2001); The Organizational Self and Ethical Conduct (Wadsworth, 2001), with James A. Anderson.

What is Greed?

Abstract:

We propose to discuss greed as a topic for philosophizing with children. All of us have some familiarity with greed. “Don’t be greedy” is a common admonition among adults and children alike. Even if the admonition (e.g., “Save some for others, too”; or “Don’t take more than your fair share”) is not especially welcome, the message is reasonably clear. Yet, this is not enough to yield a satisfying, comprehensive account of what greed is. Typically greed is regarded to involve some sort of excess, an unseemly “too much”. What is it that makes it an excess, or “too much”? And what makes it unseemly? A puzzling matter is that, even though greed is commonly viewed as bad, apparently there are many who hold that it can be good and, in fact, that it is necessary if there is to be prosperity—even for the less well off.

In short, the topic is complex, controversial, and important; and children as well as adults have much to say about it. This strikes us as an ideal “playing field” for engaging in philosophical reflection.

In the film Wall Street, Gordon Gekko famously pronounces, “Greed is good”. Without intending it, greed can serve us all by fueling the market place in ways that can help us all prosper more than it would if there were no greed. In Greed, a recent book of readings by economists and businesspersons, Nicola Horlick claims that without some desire to make money, which she equates with greed, the world would not function.1 Is the desire to make money an indication of greed?

Disney’s Uncle Scrooge McDuck would say, no. He claims to be guided by his conscience, acquiring his wealth only by means that are “fair and square,” while being committed to honesty and ensuring that his word is “as good as gold.” Thus, playing marbles or Monopoly, games with which many children are familiar, might have great appeal to McDuck, for one can “play for all the marbles” and win “fair and square”. Even so, can one exhibit greed in how one handles the winnings? Could McDuck be greedy in his unwillingness to share, no matter how fairly he may have acquired his gains?

In such games the rules may be clear and, on the face of it at least, fair; and the stakes may not be high. In the broader “game of life” matters are less clear. Operative rules may not be fair , or there may be no rules at all where there should be some (“There ought to be a law….”) Operative greed may have more free reign than it should, and help from others (including the poor) in attaining wealth may not be fully acknowledged or appreciated.

So, we think, there is much to think about and talk about, for children and adults alike. A discussion of playing for all the marbles or playing Monopoly might be a good place to start—or perhaps taking that last piece of cake when no one is looking….

1 Alexis Brassey and Stephen Barber, eds., Greed (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009), p. xv.


Stephen L. Esquith
Bio:

Stephen L. Esquith has been working on ethical problems in developing countries since 1990 when he was a senior Fulbright scholar in Poland. While in Poland he collaborated on two collections of essays written by Polish and U.S. scholars on the changes in Eastern Europe since 1989. His research and teaching since that time has focused on democratic transitions in post-conflict situations. He has written on the rule of law, the problem of democratic political education, mass violence and reconciliation, and moral and political responsibility. He is the author of Intimacy and Spectacle (Cornell, 1994), a critique of classical and modern liberal political philosophy, and The Political Responsibilities of Everyday Bystanders (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010) on mass violence and democratic political education. He has been involved in numerous civic engagement projects in the public schools and has led a study abroad program focusing on ethical issues in development in Mali in summer 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010. He spent the academic year 2005-06 teaching and working with colleagues at the University of Bamako, Mali as a senior Fulbright scholar. There he taught two seminars on ethics and development at the Institut Polytechnic Rural and the Institut Supérieure de Formation et de Recherche Appliquée. He is currently working with colleagues in Mali on several related projects on post-conflict dialogue and reconciliation, which included a study abroad program on this topic in Mali in summer 2014, follow up workshops throughout 2015-16, and reciprocal peace education projects in Michigan through the Lansing Refugee Development Center.

Philosophy for Children from Mali to Michigan

Abstract:

In summer 2014 Michigan State University students and faculty in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) traveled to Kati, Mali in direct response to the coup d’état and occupation of 2012-13. Their goal was to create a peace education program using the tools of Philosophy for Children. They approached this task through collaboration with their longtime partners in Mali, the Ciwara School and its parent Malian NGO, the Institute for Popular Education.

At the same time RCAH students have been working with younger students in the Lansing, Michigan area on a parallel peace education program through the Lansing Refugee Development Center and the Ingham Academy adjudicated youth program at Peckham, Inc. The work in Mali has been done in conjunction with initiatives in Michigan, and the two communities (Kati and Lansing) are sharing ideas and experiences as they address similar problems.

This presentation will update the work of these peace education programs from Mali to Michigan over the last two years. The Philosophy for Children tools being used in Michigan and Mali are 1) children’s picture books, 2) a conflict mediation simulation, and 3) a local community dialogue.


Jon Ficaro
Bio:

The presenter, Jon Ficaro, is a second year volunteer teacher at De La Salle Blackfeet School (DLSBS) in Browning, Montana on the Blackfeet Native American Reservation. Driven by a strong personal interest in philosophy, the presenter attended a National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar on Existentialism/ Philosophy in the Classroom in the Summer of 2016 hosted at Mount Holyoke College. During this seminar experience the presenter learned about the many benefits of teaching philosophy in the pre-college classroom and as the 8th grade Social Studies instructor at DLSBS, has integrated various elements of philosophy into the Social Studies curriculum. The presenter has enthusiastically began teaching philosophy in his middle school classroom this past year, and is equally excited to present how teaching philosophy has allowed for the enrichment of his students’ educational experience on the Blackfeet Reservation.

Teaching Philosophy on the Blackfeet Reservation

Abstract:

De La Salle Blackfeet School (DLSBS) in Browning, Montana is a private Catholic school operating with the methodology of a San Miguel education model.  San Miguel schools are supported completely through fundraising efforts, have an extended daily schedule, and have a volunteer teaching staff.  DLSBS is in a rural location and serves an entirely Native American population of seventy students (4th-8th grade).  The City of Browning is in a remote location, its unemployment runs near 70 percent, and most families live below the poverty level.  The students grow up surrounded by high rates of alcohol and drug abuse.  The education system struggles against overcrowding, and the high school dropout rate is nearly 60 percent.  DLSBS gives these students combating these issues an alternate choice, and grants them opportunities they would not have otherwise given these impoverished conditions.

As the 8th grade Social Studies instructor at our middle school, the presenter has integrated various elements of philosophy into the 8th grade Social Studies curriculum.  The traditional Social Studies curriculum covers the history of agrarian societies through the Reconstruction of the United States following the Civil War and concludes with lessons in government and civics.  Under an augmented curriculum, the presenter has added key lessons in the history of philosophy and engages students in philosophical discussions.  In developing a classroom for the discussion of philosophical issues and concepts, the first lessons begins by investigating a greater understanding of personal identity and the meaning of community.  As each historical time and culture is presented, the students are introduced to the corresponding philosophers and engage in discussion of explored issues.  Utilizing several methods for engaging students in philosophical discussion, the students are familiarized with the various branches of philosophy.  As the 8th grade students approach their graduation, they are presented with existentialist philosophy, exploring this topic especially in a manner pertinent to their own lives.  The students learn first hand the systemic issues involved with poverty, in which a person born into a certain demographic is not given as much choice.   These students learn of their objectification, how they are labeled and limited by the circumstances of their birth.  The Blackfeet students at DLSBS undergo this objectification daily.  These philosophy discussions and lessons offer the students a different perspective.  Teaching the students of the atrocities committed against their ancestors, the continued effects of the near dissolution of their culture, and the poverty in which they were born acts as the limiting factor of their facticity, yet their existence as individuals with a potentially authentic future life transcends the essence of those limiting factors.  These final lessons share an understanding of the limitations set on their freedom when creating barriers between themselves and others, cautioning against the labels and objectification they would imprint on those they encounter.  The discussions reinforce within the student the understanding that, although people may seem to be different we have far more in common with one another than that which sets us apart.  Teaching philosophy in the middle school classroom allows for these discussions to take place and enriches the lives of these students and the community as a result.


Christopher Flint
Bio:

Christopher began his career as special education teacher specializing in autism spectrum disorders 20 years ago. After leaving the classroom, Christopher ran after-school social skills programs for children with autism and developed training and trained over 12,000 parents and professionals in best practice autism strategies. He started a non-profit in 2006 and has traveled the globe to provide autism training to developing countries. Christopher also founded a tech company that develops apps for individuals with autism that has reached over 100,000 users. Currently, Christopher is the Head of School at City Elementary, a unique school for students with diverse learning needs. In his free time Christopher loves to cook, especially with his sous-chef, his four year old son.

Pre-College Philosophy, Social Justice, and Learning Disabilities: How Pre-College Philosophy Can Help Overcome Educational Injustice Relating to Autism

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Bart Schultz

The University of Chicago Civic Knowledge Project runs a precollege philosophy program called Winning Words, which seeks to bring philosophy to a wide and diverse range of underserved younger learners on Chicago’s mid-South Side.  Winning Words works in many very special contexts, one of which is the relatively new private school City Elementary.  City Elementary serves a small group of elementary school diverse learners, including those on the autism spectrum.  Working in close collaboration with the staff at City Elementary, Winning Words is trying to develop a unique form of precollege philosophy instruction for these students, but one that would have broad applicability to other schools and programs.

To this end, the Winning Words team is working directly with City Elementary’s Head-of-School Christopher Flint, a nationally recognized expert on autism. Both Flint and CKP Director Bart Schultz, the authors of this proposal, believe that certain forms of philosophy are particularly well-suited to help students with autism with their communication and socialization skills, including the cultivation of empathy and perspective taking.  However, such learners require a very carefully designed curriculum that, among other things, maximizes regularity and familiar routine, provides relevant visual aids illustrating the effects of spoken words, presents new information packaged in ways that speak to the student’s special interests.  The Winning Words program at City Elementary has adapted selected Aesopian fables and portions of White’s The Once and Future King in an effort to bring together these elements in an engaging philosophical way that both enables theatrical performance and facilitates discussion of ethical issues.

The presentation proposed here will use the work at City Elementary as a resource for illustrating and outlining general guidelines for doing precollege philosophy with students on the autism spectrum.  The presentation will contextualize this work by describing the larger social injustices suffered by students on the autism spectrum in U.S. educational system, their dearth of appropriate learning opportunities (especially in terms of philosophical pedagogy), and the important role that appropriately designed precollege philosophy could play in enhancing their educational and social opportunities.


Dan Fouts
Bio:

Since 1993 Dan has taught AP government, philosophy and US history at Maine West High School in Des Plaines, IL. He served as a member of the committee on pre-collegiate instruction in philosophy through the American Philosophical Association from 2012-2016. Dan is a co-founder of the Living Library project, a professional development program through which teachers digitize and share artifacts of their best ideas. Through his work with Living Library, he developed and is instructing an online course titled Socrates in the Social Studies which debuts this spring through a partnership with ConnectingLink.

Your District Approved the Creation of a Philosophy Course: Now What?

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Nick Caltagirone

This workshop will focus on the idea that in order to increase pre-collegiate students’ exposure to philosophical inquiries the next step is getting approval for and creating a stand-alone philosophy class at the high school level. The goal of this workshop is twofold. First, the facilitators will share their experiences teaching stand-alone philosophy classes. Secondly, and more importantly, the participants will be able to craft various stages of a philosophy curriculum and share ideas with each other and the facilitators. Specific portions of this workshop can be scaled back or increased depending on the logistical realities of time and number of participants. Further, the facilitators will be able to adjust the emphasis of workshop stages based on the needs of the participants. For instance, if most of the attendees already have courses approved and in place, the facilitators can focus more attention on later portions of the workshop such as assessment.    

In the first stage of this workshop, the participants will articulate the reasons a district would include a philosophy course at the high school level, and how inclusion of such a course is a great way to serve the needs of certain students who may feel left out of school or who need to be challenged in a different way. In this sense, a philosophy class could provide a way to validate the intelligence of underserved students. Using the CCSS as a basis, participants will be able to link specific standards and parts of a philosophy curriculum. The facilitators will offer advice on how they each were able to get philosophy classes to run in their respective schools, and participants will be able to work on crafting proposals to potentially bring back to their school districts.

The next portion of this workshop will center on how to structure a stand-alone philosophy class. The facilitators will share each of their organizational structures and participants will work to craft potential syllabi. Areas for consideration will include, but not necessarily be limited to: historical organization, thematic organization, use of anchor texts, use of supplemental texts, and use of primary texts.

Additionally, this workshop will focus on how to engage students in philosophical inquiry. The facilitators will lead the participants through an abridged lesson and share various assessment methods. Participants will then be able to work on creating a lesson tied to a specific portion of their previously designed organizational structure, and a potential assessment to gauge student learning. Facilitators will provide a range of sources to act as the foundation for lesson creation, and myriad sources and materials will be shared with attendees through a Google Drive folder.

The next portion of this workshop will have participants discuss potential ways to bring philosophy out of the classroom. The facilitators will share what they have done to make philosophy relevant away from the specific context of philosophy class, including after school philosophy clubs, and interdisciplinary approaches that link the philosophy curriculum with the work students are doing in their other classes.

In the final stage devoted to a stand-alone philosophy class, facilitators will share some of the potential difficulties in teaching a high school philosophy class including the challenges of varied reading levels of students, teaching controversial subjects, balancing academic philosophy with lived philosophy, and keeping to a student-centered curriculum.

Our goal for this workshop is for participants to walk away with more than clear ideas as to why a high school philosophy class is beneficial to students. We also want participants to be prepared to pursue approval for a stand-alone philosophy class. Additionally, we want participants to be able to leave the workshop with tangible materials that will help them create an organizational structure, design lessons, and craft assessments appropriate for a high school philosophy course.    


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Sara Goering
Bio:

Sara Goering is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington, as well as Program Director for the UW Center for Philosophy for Children. She leads philosophy sessions with Kindergarten students, mentors college students in K-12 placements, and teaches a college-level course on philosophy for children. In addition, she serves as Chair for the APA’s Committee on Pre-College Instruction in Philosophy. With Tom Wartenberg and Nicholas Shudak, she edited the book Philosophy in Schools: An Introduction for Philosophers and Teachers (Routledge 2013).

What if you were blue? Talking philosophy of race, culture and color with Kindergarten students

Abstract:

Doing philosophy with young students provides an opportunity for students to think through questions they ponder about the world and their place in it. In the context of the United States, those questions will, inevitably and importantly, include issues of race, culture and color. Sometimes teachers are wary of raising these issues with young students, for fear that someone will say something “wrong” or insensitive, but these are questions the children are motivated to explore. In this presentation, I describe how these questions have come up and been addressed in the context of philosophy sessions with Kindergarten students in an ethnically diverse school in XXXX.

The students I work with are ethnically diverse, and many of them are non-native speakers of English. They bring a wide range of experience and cultural knowledge to the classroom. As Kindergarteners, they are also just learning the how to be in school: how to sit in a circle, raise their hands, listen to their classmates, make new friends, and start making judgments about what matters (e.g., what is a relevant comment, when do differences of appearance matter, when is it okay to disagree with the teacher, etc.). They are also learning about their new classmates, given that they have different skin colors, wear different cultural attire, and often speak different languages. Doing philosophy is an excellent activity to help them get to know each other and to explore their questions about difference together. Sometimes this happens indirectly, as when they find out more about what their classmates think about, for instance, whether one needs experience of something to know about it (a common question after we read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss). Other times, it comes up much more directly, in books that center on issues of race, difference, exclusion and injustice.

In this presentation, I show how using several simple children’s pictures books – Something Else by Kathryn Cave, Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems, and Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña – can effectively raise questions about race, color, and culture, as well as discrimination, injustice and happiness. Using examples from my classroom experience, I describe the kinds of questions the children raise in respect to these books, and some of the answers they work through in their facilitated discussions. Time permitting, I will offer a quick demonstration of how these sessions work, using one of the texts. My aim is to show how even young students are prepared to ask about and tackle answers to these important issues. 


Michael Goetz
Bio:

Michael Goetz is a second grade classroom teacher in Sheridan, Oregon. Prior to this he worked as Director for the Sheridan 21 CCLC After School Program. He has taught sixth, fourth and third grade, and is a board member for the Sheridan Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides grant funding for educators who seek to bring innovative ideas and teaching strategies into the classroom. Throughout his career, Michael has sought to integrate philosophy into his classes, both directly and indirectly. As a member of an ongoing Professional Development Committee, he has advocated for a stronger presence of philosophical ideas both in the classroom and in the professional development offered to educators. A member of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, he continues to study philosophy at the graduate level at the University of Oregon, as well as attend philosophy conferences, most recently participating as a Summer Scholar in the NEH Summer Seminar for Teachers on Existentialism, convened by Professor Thomas Wartenberg. Michael received his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Oregon and later a Masters in Education from the University of Oregon. His interests include American Pragmatism, Phenomenology, Existentialism, History of Philosophy, Philosophy for Children, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of Childhood, and History of Education.

Jane Addams and Sympathetic Knowledge

Abstract:

In the year 2015, there were more than 14.5 million children in America who were living in poverty, with more than two-thirds in working families. Poor children are often less healthy, behind their peers in emotional and intellectual development, and are less likely to graduate from high school. Teachers in public schools can play an integral role in mitigating the adverse effects of poverty on children, but teachers often lack a deep understanding of the everyday circumstances that their students face. Teachers may be aware of the socio-economic landscape of their school, and may well have had training to better understand the effects of poverty. Yet it is ultimately what teachers do with that information that determines its impact on the students who are living in poverty. How might philosophical discussion with students contribute to moving beyond a merely theoretical understanding of students and their situation? Are there other areas in schools beside the traditional classroom environment, such as the playgrounds, cafeterias, and hallways where teachers can access a more authentic understanding of the struggles of their students?

The pragmatist philosopher and cofounder of Hull House, Jane Addams, offers a rich approach to better understanding the nature of poverty and the impact it has on people through her notion of sympathetic knowledge. Arguably her most significant contribution to philosophy, sympathetic knowledge, reassesses the relationship between epistemology and ethics, and puts an emphasis on actively knowing other people for the purpose of understanding them with a substantial degree of depth. For Addams, people can benefit from statistical information and research, but it is only through sympathetic understanding that one can properly approach a human problem such as poverty. Sympathetic knowledge resists traditional dualisms such as mind and body, reason and emotion, and ethics and epistemology. In a public education system that is increasingly relying on statistical information, it is important to not lose sight of the fact that it is only in our integration of that information into our action that impacts the outcome for our students. Without a significant depth of understanding of students, teachers lack the ability to transform abstract statistics into a concrete understanding of the students they work with and the barriers those students face. If teachers rely solely on statistics and the interactions they have with their students in traditional classroom environments, sympathetic understanding cannot be achieved.

Drawing on the philosophy of Jane Addams, and more specifically her notion of sympathetic knowledge, this paper will explore more robust possibilities for teachers working with children living in poverty. It will examine how philosophical discussion with children can provide avenues, as well as explore using the spaces in public schools such as the playgrounds, cafeterias, and hallways that are largely dismissed as mere free time, to provide sympathetic understanding. A more deliberate analysis and familiarity with these spaces could prove to provide very beneficial insights into the struggles and concerns of students living in poverty because they are spaces where students express ideas in a less filtered manner.


Steve Goldberg
Bio:

Steve Goldberg taught philosophy and history for three decades at Oak Park River Forest High School. He also taught philosophy and religion at Saffron Walden County High School on a Fulbright exchange, philosophy for high school students at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development, workshops on teaching philosophy at University of Chicago’s Graham School, and undergraduate philosophy courses at DePaul University. Goldberg won the National Council of Social Studies award for Global Understanding and was a Golden Apple finalist. He wrote Two Patterns of Rationality in Freud’s Writings (University of Alabama Press) and co-edited Technological Change and the Transformation of America (Southern Illinois University Press). His other publications include book chapters, articles, and review essays on philosophy, history, and education. Goldberg is a member of the PLATO Board. He earned his doctorate in philosophy at DePaul University.

Teaching Animal Minds

Abstract:

I’ve often wondered what to make of my dog's seemingly adoring gaze. So I read with interest a column in the local paper that scoffed at people who believe their dogs love them. Having co-evolved with humans, dogs are adept at behavior that moves us to feed and shelter them. According to the article, dogs don’t love us but they’re resourceful in getting from humans what they want and need. I decided to share the provocative argument with my philosophy students. Our brief detour from the planned lesson on Descartes and Ryle sparked a lively, probing debate. Some students argued that we should trust our intutions about the mental states of animals. Others were skeptical. Without the medium of language, we can't cross the explanatory gap between our mental lives and theirs. Questions about animal minds resurfaced only briefly with our discussion of Nagel's "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?". But after returning to a more standard approach to philosophy of mind, I sensed a missed opportunity, a road not taken.

I wish to explore possibilities for teaching high school students philosophy of mind through inquiry into the cognitive and emotional lives of non-human animals. I think this approach has promise for several reasons. The lives of animals are intrinsically fascinating and advances in experimental psychology and ethology offer rich and varied examples for inquiry. A related point is that the topic of animal minds is fertile ground for interdisciplinary study that could incorporate philosophy into psychology, biology, or zoology classes. In my view, the study of animal minds requires a delicate balance of empirical research and conceptual analysis. Philosophers also have long speculated on what it means to be human by comparing ourselves with non-human animals. As we scrutinize philosophical claims about animal minds—for example, Descartes’ picture of animals as soulless machines—we’re also forced to confront questionable claims for human uniqueness and to reflect on continuities between humans and other animals.So the study of animals is a dialogue with both ourselves and the Western philosophical tradition. I should add that the moral stakes are high in how we regard other species in light of the billions of animals slaughtered each year for human purposes. Finally, controversy within the scientific community about the appropriate method(s) for researching and explaining animal behavior invites epistemological questions about how we know and explain the minds of animals. For example, is folk psychology reliable in characterizing their mental states, or does it invite misleading and sentimental anthropomorphism? When, if ever, should we adopt what Daniel Dennett calls the intentional stance in explaining animal behavior?

The workshop will divide into three parts.

  • After briefly sketching developments and controversies in the scientific study of animal behavior, I will introduce key topics that link the study of animal cognition to philosophy of mind: What is cognition, and what is it to have a mind? What does research into pain and emotions reveal about animal consciousness? Does animal cognition involve beliefs and concepts? Do some animals convey meaning in intentional communication; and do some non-human animals know language? Do some non-human animals have a theory of mind; that is, do animals have the ability to view others as having a mind and mental states? Do some non-human animals exhibit agency and free will, or should we follow Frankfurt in regarding them as "wantons"? What is the moral status of non-human animals; are some capable of moral reasoning and behavior?

  • Working in small groups, workshop participants will be assigned one or two cases of animal cognition (e.g., vervet monkey alarm calls, elephant mirror recognition, chimpanzee strategies to deceive rivals) Some written cases will be supplemented with you tube videos.After summarizing the relevant behavior, each small group will report their responses to several questions: (1) What philosophical questions about animal minds arise from the case? (2) What conclusion, if any, can be tentatively drawn from the case? (3) What further experimental data or field studies would help form reliable generalizations about animal cognition? (4) What further philosophical analysis is needed to gain clarity and understanding of the case’s implications for the study of animal minds?

  • The balance of the workshop will be spent in a whole group discussion of how—and how well—the study of non-human animals can be used in the high school classroom to explore questions in the philosophy of mind. I’m hopeful that discussion will yield helpful, creative suggestions for pedagogy as well as content.


Kristen B. Golden
Bio:

Kristen B. Golden is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of Peace and Justice Studies at Millsaps College. Kristen Golden is the coeditor of The Trauma Controversy: Philosophical and Interdisciplinary Dialogues (State University of New York Press, 2009) and the author of Nietzsche and Embodiment: Discerning Bodies and Non-dualism (State University of New York Press, 2006). She has published book chapters on trauma theory and on French philosopher of embodiment, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and journal articles on topics in phenomenology, philosophy of body, feminist philosophy, Nietzsche and Aristotle. In 2015 Kristen Golden was awarded a National Endowment of the Humanities Enduring Questions Grant to teach a new course surrounding the question, Is peace possible? She is currently researching psychoanalytic ideas of the unconscious and their relation to contemporary discourses surrounding implicit racial bias.

Teaching Justice through Teaching Empathy

Abstract:

My session would begin by making a case for the importance of teaching empathy and would then present specific strategies for using a course topic to engender empathy. It is my experience that increased empathy engenders a desire in students to learn more about the topic.

Following the presentation, I would allow workshop participants to apply some of these strategies to courses they teach or would like to teach and would then finish the session with sharing in small groups (or with the entire group, depending on the number of attendees).

My comments would primarily be based on my experience with a course I developed with a colleague, in which we incorporated two such strategies: reading memoirs and engaging in community projects. The course explores the extent to which peaceful methods can be successful in addressing social inequities or in confronting violence. The advantages and disadvantages of the strategies would be discussed based on my students’ responses and learning outcomes as well as on scholarly literature.

While pedagogies of empathy are relevant for course topics involving practical concerns about peace and violence, social justice, or environmental issues, I would argue that the cultivation of empathy is an important educational goal, regardless of whether it leads to social activism. Regarding my choice of using memoirs, for example, I find support from literature professor, Ann Jurecic, when she states, “Literature is an invitation to dwell in uncertainty and to explore the difficulties of knowing, acknowledging, and responding to others.” In other words, empathy is a human value that ought to be cultivated, even though it may not overtly resolve practical problems.

“Cultivated” is a key word since research indicates that social conditions and media today are desensitizing people to others’ feelings. Pedagogies of empathy are intended to reactivate sensitivity toward fellow human beings. However, it is possible that empathy would not lead to sympathy and compassion, which are viewed as active forms of caring for another. In fact empathy may lead to personal distress, causing a person to withdraw from social or interpersonal involvement (Suzanne Keen 2006). One way of diverting such a response is to give students opportunities to interact with people about whom they are concerned. Such interactions may (but do not necessarily) lead to a shared sense of humanity that increases positive empathy and moves

people to become more other-directed. An example of this occurred in my class when students interacted with youth at a detention center. Some of the students were apprehensive about having such an interaction. Even if it had not gone well, it is my opinion that active engagement with others creates a bodily memory that stays with a person longer than reading words on a page, though each has its place. Even a negative experience allows a person to continue to make connections with other learning for as long as the experience is remembered, and could be one thread in a tapestry of empathy created over a lifetime.


Landon Hedrick
Bio:

Landon Hedrick is a philosophy graduate student in the PhD program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While he is finishing up his dissertation in epistemology, he is teaching high school history and philosophy full time at Vanguard Classical School in Aurora, CO. Alongside the ninth grade Western Civilization class he was hired to teach, Mr. Hedrick has developed a blossoming philosophy program for the school, consisting of multiple classes: Moral Philosophy (a graduation requirement); Introduction to Philosophy; Logic and Critical Thinking; Political Philosophy; Space, Time, and Cosmology; and college-level philosophy classes through the University of Colorado Denver. He also coaches Ethics Bowl and Mock Trial for the school.

Teaching Controversial Issues in the High School Philosophy Classroom: to Walk on Egg Shells or to Throw Caution to the Wind

Abstract:

There are some significant differences between teaching philosophy in college and teaching philosophy in high school. Perhaps chief among the differences is that high school teachers have much more reason to worry about what they say (or don’t say) when it comes to controversial issues. Speaking as someone who has taught at both levels, I have experienced this phenomenon firsthand. Whereas I have never been told that my chosen topics are out of bounds in a college classroom, I have faced complaints from some high school students about the sensitive issues that we studied in class, and I have sometimes been given strict guidelines from school administrators. The controversial issues in question are, unsurprisingly, certain moral and religious topics.

What are philosophy teachers to do when facing up to this problem? One proposal is to generally avoid teaching about and discussing all controversial issues. If the goal of the course is to teach our students to think critically, then this can be achieved without ever broaching problematic topics. The American Philosophical Association gives the following bit of advice to those wishing to teach pre-college philosophy: “Think about the religious, philosophical, or community service commitments of the school community. Does the environment allow for more heated discussions which arise in most courses on personal and social ethics? Might it be more pragmatic to offer less immediately controversial courses in the philosophy of science, logic, or critical thinking skills?”

Quite a different proposal is to face the controversy head-on and discuss these issues despite the fact that it might make some students and parents uncomfortable or unhappy. After all, studying these issues is undoubtedly quite valuable, which is why they’re standard topics in college philosophy courses. Learning how to think carefully about such issues is an important part of becoming an informed citizen, which is one of the key goals of education. But in this case, high school teachers can face major headaches from angry parents and administrators. Socrates landed himself in hot water for allegedly corrupting the youth, but today’s teachers may be unwilling to follow his lead if it could cost them their job. Moreover, given that philosophy currently has a tenuous position in the high school curriculum, there is a more general reason not to rock the boat: we want to expand the appeal of teaching philosophy to today’s youth, and courting controversy might stand in the way of achieving that goal.

Philosophy teachers, therefore, have a problem on their hands. How should we weigh the various considerations at play here?


Lisa Hicks
Bio:

In her undergraduate days, Lisa Hicks double-concentrated in Philosophy and English. She planned to go to law school but realized that she didn't want to be a lawyer, so she went to graduate school in Philosophy instead. Her dissertation examined Nietzsche's concepts of the self, the ascetic ideal, and the will to power in On the Genealogy of Morals. Her current research involves revising that dissertation into a book, writing some shorter pieces on Nietzsche, and dabbling in philosophy and literature. In addition to teaching for OHS, Lisa teaches in Stanford's Structured Liberal Education program (a Great-Books-based program for first-year undergraduates). For the past several summers, she has also taught for Kentucky's Governor's Scholars Program, where her Quidditch Club is a cult favorite.

Applying Theory to Practice at Stanford Online High School

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Christina Drogalis & Jonathan Weil

At the Stanford University Online High School, our students take a sequence of interdisciplinary classes that are aimed at the development of philosophical skills. Two of our upper division courses, Democracy, Freedom, and the Rule of Law (DFRL) and Critical Reading and Argumentation (CRA), are designed to teach our students how to apply philosophical theory to practical cases. We’d like to propose a workshop in which we discuss a sample apply-theory-to-practice assignment from each class. We envision the workshop as a chance to uncover new and more effective ways of achieving the course goal.

In DFRL, one of the overarching objectives is to promote good citizenship through the development of philosophical skills. One of our general strategies to attain this goal is to introduce the students to some philosophical theory or methodology and then apply it to a political artifact, such as a political speech or court document. Through discussion, written assignments, and evaluation of this intersection of theory and application, we aim to inculcate traits of good citizenship by developing skills and knowledge relevant to participation in political discourse, evaluation of proposed policies and legislation, and political action.

One example of our use of this strategy is an assignment in which we introduce students to the method of briefing a Supreme Court case as applied to the foundational Marbury v. Madison. A pre-recorded lecture shows students the six general steps of case briefing and models the method using an abridged version of the famous case. Students are thus taught the general skill of interpreting legal briefs and are introduced to the argument supporting judicial review in concert. In the following class, we have students perform their own briefing of another case, Wisconsin v. Yoder. In class discussion, we have students work in small groups to compare their briefings, and reconvene to discuss both the briefings and the arguments in the case pitting religious freedom against the need for the state to have educated and politically competent citizens. We then assign one of the term’s major papers, which prompts the students to use previous material focused on the relationship between democracy, equality and popular sovereignty (e.g., Tocqueville, King, Jefferson) to adjudicate between the two sides in the Yoder case.

In CRA, one of our primary goals is to help students develop the resources of critical reading and reasoning, through a careful analysis of exemplary pieces of philosophical argumentation and philosophical literature. While emphasizing the cultivation of tools and strategies for careful philosophical analysis in reading and writing, course materials also encourage reflection on some of the fundamental characteristics and assumptions of ethics, religion, science, and philosophy itself in relation to both longstanding and contemporary issues and debate about them.

The moral experiment project asks students to critically consider one of three major moral frameworks (among virtue ethics, utilitarianism, and deontology) by living according to the chosen ethical system and reflecting on this experience. The first stage involves a prospectus which has two parts: (1) A careful exposition of the main tenets of the ethical theory, with a particular focus on aspects of the theory that are relevant to how it would be lived in practice; (2) a brief account of concerns facing the chosen theory, including concerns with the practical implications/implementation of the theory. The second stage comprises living the ethics as closely as possible for two days, while keeping a journal documenting the experience. Students submit the journal as an appendix to the paper. For the third stage, students write an essay that contains a critical summary of the chosen moral framework, a critical reflection upon its applicability in light of their experiences with it, and some conclusions about what they have learned about its strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. This leads to a final fourth stage, involving a revision of the essay, based on peer and instructor feedback.

After presenting these sample assignments, we plan to guide an exercise and discussion. First, we will ask participants in the workshop to discuss how they might construct assignments and readings to achieve these goals or how they’ve set up assignments to achieve similar objectives in other classes. Then, we will open the discussion to a broader conversation about the difficulties and concerns of teaching students to apply philosophical theory to practical cases. We’re interested in what techniques others use, what others find valuable and challenging about helping students to develop this skill, and how these approaches can be tailored to different types of schools and students.


Roberta Israeloff
Bio:

Roberta Israeloff has directed the Squire Family Foundation since its inception in 2007.  Its mission is to introduce precollege students to philosophy.  The Foundation is a founding partner of both PLATO and the National High School Ethics Bowl.  She is also a writer and has published hundreds of essays, articles and short stories, as well as a dozen books; her most recently book, What Went Right:  Lessons from Both Side of the Teacher's Desk (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), is co-authored with her 11th grade American literature teacher, George McDermott.  It is a paean to teachers and the humanities.


Abstract:
Natalie Lane Janson
Bio:

Natalie Lane Janson is a first year elementary school teacher in Battle Ground, Washington. She currently teaches third grade at Tukes Valley Primary. Her students engage in "Philosophy Fridays" every week that include reading a children's literature piece and discussing the philosophical issues and exploring student generated philosophical questions.

Exploring Ethics through Literature in Elementary School

Abstract:

Young children are natural philosophers, which is evident in their almost constant barrage of questions. In order to investigate the impact that philosophy education, specifically ethics education, has on students, I designed a 4 lesson literacy unit that brought children's literature and ethical dilemmas together. Each unit was driven by one of four ethical ideals: honesty, helping others, work ethic, following social norms. Individual lessons started with the presentation of a children's book, philosophical discussion of the ethical dilemma within the book and an independent written reflection and survey. The four children's books that were used in this unit are: "Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big"
by Berkeley Breathed, "The Cats in Krasinski Square" by Karen Hesse, "The Little Red Hen" by Paul Galdone and "Frog on a Log?" by Kes Gray and Jim Field. The unit was taught to 22 3rd grade students in a public school setting in 2016 and will be taught again to a second group of 3rd grade students in spring 2017.

Students are given a pre-assessment at the start of the unit, where they are asked to rate the "wrongness" of a situation on a scale of 1-5, 1 being defined as "very wrong" and 5 being defined as "perfectly okay". Each of the situations had to do with one of the ethical ideals and would be a situation that a typical 3rd grader would have experience within the school setting. This pre assessment was also given at end of the unit, in order track how student thinking changed over time. At the end of each
lesson, students were asked to rate the ethical situation within the story on the same "wrongness" scale and to rationalize their rating.

One of the titles that we used, "Cats of Krasinski Square" is a historical fiction piece that explores life in a Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. After reading the story, students were asked to rate how wrong it was of the narrator to sneak food into the ghetto, in order to help the people inside. A student who rated the action as being "perfectly okay" explored various strands of philosophical
thought in her response, but focuses on the idea of choice. She acknowledges the somewhat obvious and agreeable statement that the person in power, who started the ghettos, should be punished, but rather than condemning that person, she voices her belief that the individual can change. She explains that the person can choose to continue the wrong act, or they can choose to make a positive difference. Even if the person has made 'wrong' choices in their life, she believes that they can overcome the negative and choose to have a more positive influence in the world. This is one example that illustrates the student's critical thinking skills and ability to see nuances within a situation, which is supported by the assessment data, as well. Students ideas shifted towards the middle of the scale, meaning their answers to situations tended to be more neutral than right or wrong. Due to a small sample size, the data is somewhat unreliable however, this unit will be taught again to a second group of 3rd grade students this spring.


Karl Joyner
Bio:

Karl Joyner is a M.Ed student in Teachers College's Philosophy and Education program at Columbia University. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago where he taught pre-collegiate philosophy classes and coached Ethics Bowl teams with the Civic Knowledge Project's Winning Words program, and currently teaches debate at Fredrick Douglass Academy and Wadleigh High School in NYC.


Abstract:
Erik Kenyon
Bio:

Erik Kenyon holds a PhD in Classics from Cornell University (2012) with a concentration in Ancient & Medieval Philosophy. His forthcoming book, Augustine and the Dialogue, takes scholarship on Augustine’s dialogues back to the drawing board, arguing that they provide pedagogical models for confronting life’s big questions through a combination of ‘un-teaching,’ self-reflection and a willingness to trade in provisional answers. Since grad school, Kenyon has taught Philosophy, Classics & Humanities at Rollins College. His interest in Philosophy for Children arose from his own work with undergraduates and the need to un-teach habits born of today’s culture of standardized testing. In collaboration with Diane Terorde-Doyle of Rollins’ Child Development Center, he has led five courses in which Rollins students worked with local school children, ages 3-11. Their approaches build upon the work of the late Gary Matthews (a long-term friend from Medieval circles) and Tom Wartenberg. After much trial and error, Doyle and Kenyon have modified Wartenberg’s elementary school curriculum for use with pre-K students. They have published two articles on the project and are currently working with Sharon Carnahan, Professor of Developmental Psychology at Rollins, to produce a pre-K ethics curriculum. The goal is to engage children in puzzles from Western ethical theory (Aristotle, Kant, Mill, Care) through series of games, picture books and art projects arranged over a framework that fuses techniques of ancient dialogue with contemporary work in cognitive science.

How Low Can You Go: An Experiment in Pre-K Philosophy

Abstract:

Piaget’s work suggests that young children are too concrete and egocentric to engage in philosophy. Matthews, Philosophy of Childhood, has argued against this on theoretical grounds while Wartenberg, Big Ideas for Little Kids, presents a how-to manual for an elementary school philosophy course. Through picture books, open questions, and nine rules for the “philosophy game,” Wartenberg bridges the concrete-abstract divide and shows that elementary students may engage in discussion of philosophical big ideas. Yet what of younger children? Our college joined two local preschools to determine: how low can you go? Over two years we have developed a model for engaging students as young as four years old.

Our lesson planning starts by identifying a question that matters to the children but admits of more than one plausible answer. For instance: what is courage? From here we identify relevant considerations—for example, the relation between fear, danger, and action—which we use to craft a lesson in three stages. Following Wartenberg, we use picture books (e.g., Frog and Toad, “Dragons and Giants”) to invite children to consider these ideas. Yet we break from Wartenberg by engaging children in mini-discussion during the reading, not after, and we supplement readings with hands-on games, either before or after reading (e.g., assigning some task to blindfolded children), again striking up mini-discussion during the game. While books and games plant the seeds of ideas, final arts projects allow them to blossom. For instance, we ask children to “draw a time you were brave” or “make a friend out of Legos,” and we engage them in more protracted discussion while they work. The opening game allows children to think with their bodies. The storybook lets them approach the same ideas through narrative. The art project provides ‘scaffolding’ for conversation in much the same way doodling or a whiteboard does for adults. In short, whatever the truth of Piaget’s theory, the assumption that philosophy is necessarily an abstract undertaking is simply false. In line with Vygotsky’s Social-Learning Theory, four year olds, when provided fast-moving, concrete ways of approaching ideas, have surprised us with the depth of their thinking.

In conjunction with these lessons, we help children practice our own ‘philosophy rules:’ we listen, we think, we respond. Even this distillation of Wartenberg’s nine rules requires a good deal of self-awareness. We thus use games to invite children to think metacognitively. For listening, we play telephone. For thinking, we ask them to act like their favorite animals and then to explain how they got to that choice. For responding, one person makes a controversial claim (e.g., about the best ice-cream flavor); those who agree stand with her, and those who disagree stand apart. While children may tend to start out egocentric, those who can recognize themselves as thinkers can recognize others as thinkers, too. The conversations that spring up on our playground beginning with “I disagree with you because…” witness to the fact that even four year olds can engage in philosophy.


Kelly Laas
Bio:

Kelly Laas is the Librarian/Ethics Instructor at the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (CSEP) at the Illinois Institute of Technology. During her eleven years at the Center, she has supervised a number of projects relating to the development of online ethics resources and collections, including the management of CSEP’s large Ethics Codes Collection. She is currently collaborating with the National Academy of Engineering’s Center for Engineering, Ethics and Society in developing bibliographies and other materials for the Online Ethics Center, as well as developing the Ethics Education Library, an online database of articles, syllabi, ethics case studies, and best practices of how to integrate ethics into existing technical courses and workshops. Along with coordinating the Center's funded projects, Ms. Laas also collaborates with Illinois Tech faculty in engineering, science, the social sciences and business schools to help integrate ethics into existing courses. Ms. Laas is currently the Upper Midwest Regional representative for the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, and has helped organize the Chicago High School Regional Ethics Bowl for the past two years. She received her MLS in 2005 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is a member of the College and Research Libraries division of the American Library Association.

High School Ethics Bowl in Chicago: Classroom and Beyond

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Scott Dick

Beginning in 2011, the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions and Pritzker College Prep have coached a high school ethics bowl team and sought to grow Ethics Bowl as both a teaching tool for students at the high school level and to start a regional competition for Chicago-area high schools. From 2011 to the present, the Ethics Center at Illinois Tech has hosted a summer ethics bowl competition for students participating in the Global Leaders Program on Illinois Tech’s main campus, and from 2012-2016, Scott Dick and Kelly Laas have coached the Pritzker College Prep’s Ethics Bowl team. In 2014, a small ethics bowl competition was held, which grew into a competition recognized by the National High School Ethics bowl and has been hosted by the University of Chicago’s Winning Words program in 2015 and 2016.

 

The Ethics Bowl combines the excitement and fun of a competitive tournament with a valuable educational experience for undergraduate students. Recognized widely by educators, the Ethics Bowl, which was developed in 1993 as a college-level competition by Robert Ladenson, Emeritus Fellow of the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, has received special commendation for excellence and innovation from the American Philosophical Association, and received the 2006 American Philosophical Association/Philosophy Documentation Center's 2006 prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs. The format, rules, and procedures of the Ethics Bowl all have been developed to model widely acknowledged best methods of reasoning in practical and professional ethics.  

During this interactive session, Kelly Laas and Scott Dick will explain the history and pedagogical merits of Ethics Bowl, how the competition can be adapted to work in a variety of class room settings to help student engage in philosophical discourse, and the audience will be asked to participate in a round of ethics bowl as competitors, moderators, and judges.


M - R

Jana Mohr-Lone
Bio:

Jana Mohr Lone is the director of the Center for Philosophy for Children and Affiliate Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington. She is the author of The Philosophical Child, which explores ways that parents, grandparents, and other adults can stimulate philosophical conversations about children's questions; the co-author (with Michael Burroughs) of Philosophy in Education: Questioning and Dialogue in Schools, a textbook that offers theoretical and practical resources for precollege philosophy educators; and the co-editor (with Roberta Israeloff) of Philosophy and Education: Introducing Philosophy to Young People, which examines various issues involved in teaching philosophy to young people. Since 1995 she has worked with pre-college teachers and students in Seattle schools and around the country and with university graduate and undergraduate students, parents, school administrators, and others interested in philosophical inquiry with young people. A frequent writer and speaker about pre-college philosophy, Jana is the founding and immediate past president of PLATO, the founding editor-in-chief of the journal Questions: Philosophy for Young People, and from 2009 to 2015 the chair of the American Philosophical Association Committee on Pre-College Instruction in Philosophy. She writes the blog Wondering Aloud: Philosophy with Young People. You can follow her on Twitter: @JanaMohrLone

Exploring Race and Social Inequalities with Fifth Grade Students || Exploring Race and Social Inequalities with Fifth Grade Students

Abstract:

Exploring Race and Social Inequalities with Fifth Grade Students

Co-presenting with David Shapiro

This workshop will engage the participants in thinking about race and social inequalities, against the background of a year-long project that explored these issues with four groups of fifth grade students at a public school in Seattle.

Thurgood Marshall is an interesting and unusual school. It has a General Education program, which serves neighborhood students who are almost entirely students of color with about 70% qualifying for free and reduced price lunches, and is also one of the Seattle's hosts of the "Highly Capable Cohort (HCC)," which serves students who are mostly white and Asian, largely from middle to upper income families. These two programs have in the past been completely separate, and the school has for the past couple of years been working on ways to ensure that all the children have access to a rigorous and enriching education. Connecting the community and giving the students experiences working together is one of the school's goals.

As part of those goals, four instructors from the UW Center for Philosophy for Children led philosophy discussions all year for all of the school’s fifth grade students, approximately 125 children, in groups that were a mix of students from the General Education and HCC programs, with a focus on social justice and race issues.

The workshop will describe the experience of this project, including its successes and challenges. We will then involve the workshop participants in an interactive dialogue, using one or two of the more successful lesson plans that were utilized by the project.


Social Inequalities, Democratic Spaces, and Philosophy in Schools

Co-presenting with Debi Talukdar

This workshop will explore various questions related to the practice of addressing social justice issues, and in particular race and racism, through philosophy sessions in elementary school. The workshop will draw on the experience of leading a series of fifth grade philosophy classes during the 2016-17 school year with a focus on race and racial equality. Workshop participants will examine together both some general questions about philosophy education and the ways in which philosophy is often connected to social justice, as well as specific issues related to the role of the teacher in relation to philosophy and race in the classroom.

It is sometimes stated that the practice of philosophical thinking in the classroom will lead to a more fair, just, reasonable, and democratic society, or that discussions of philosophy and race will result in diminished racial conflict. These are examples of an understanding of pre-college philosophy in which philosophical practice is a means to achieve certain political aims. In this workshop we hope to problematize this way of connecting philosophy with social and political goals.

We would like to explore whether certain political values need to be presuppositions rather than aims of philosophical practice, if the practice is to be truly democratic and/or emancipatory. That is, can a classroom that is not in itself emancipatory be the setting for an emancipatory practice? For example, is “teaching for social justice” possible when the teacher is working within a structure that gives him or her more power than the students? What does it mean to “teach for social justice?” What is the role of the teacher in a classroom that seeks to be emancipatory? Can teachers “teach” to reach social justice, or does social justice require a transformation of the relationships between teachers and students, and what would that involve?

The educator bell hooks has written that a transformative educational environment depends on community and a shared commitment to learning in the classroom. For hooks, this means shifting our paradigms for what classroom learning requires, becoming aware of the “narrow boundaries that have shaped the way knowledge is shared in the classroom” and being willing to experience the disquiet that can be involved when our ways of understanding the world are challenged.

For example, philosophical discussions of race and racism are often led by teachers who are white. The Pew Research Center estimates that by 2050, almost one in five U.S citizens will be an immigrant, and demographers predict that by 2035 students of color will constitute a majority of the U.S. student population. At the same time, the vast majority of teachers are white and native English speakers, and there is no sign that this is changing. Most K-12 teachers are white, middle-class females, and the far majority of academics engaged in pre-college philosophy in the U.S. are also white and middle class, with all of the associated power and privilege that this status confers.

UCLA Education professor Tyrone Howard observes: “[I[t is not uncommon for students of color to have deep-seated mistrust or suspicion of teachers who come from racially privileged groups. Teachers have a tremendous responsibility and obligation to earn the trust of students from diverse backgrounds.” Part of this obligation, Howard asserts, is the development of racial awareness, which recognizes the social, political and economic consequences of being a member of a racially marginalized group, as well as the unearned opportunities and advantages that come with being a member of a racially privileged group, and involves a commitment to advocating for social justice. This can mean, among other things, teachers being willing to look at the subtle and sometimes unconscious ways that we might respond to students differently, depending on their race, sex and/or class, including paying attention to who we call on, the language we use, and other manifestations of our own perspectives and biases.

What is required to support diverse groups of young people to come together to explore essential questions about social justice? Can teachers, within the power structure of the school, work with students to fashion a democratic space? How? What is specifically required of teachers who engage in this work under the aegis of philosophy?

We will utlilize various prompts to consider the kinds of questions raised above, as well as others contributed by the workshop participants related to the potential benefits and challenges of attempting to create democratic spaces and address social inequalities through philosophical inquiry in elementary school classrooms.


Alessia Marabini
Bio:

Alessia Marabini (PhD in Philosophy, University of Bologna, Italy) is a researcher in epistemology, a secondary school teacher, and a “teacher P4C” committed to promoting Socratic dialogue, P4C and critical thinking with pupils in grade 4. She is a member of the COGITO Research Centre in Philosophy, University of Bologna.

Evaluating Concept Possession as an Explicit Social Practice

Abstract:

According to many standards of assessment in teaching and tests, to grasp a concept and the correct meaning of a term involves a commitment to drawing certain inferences. This seems sometimes to be a consequence of the alleged thesis that the meaning of a term is given by its justification through some premises intended as “implicit” and so forth mandatory. Inferential commitments come out from a kind of “detached” premise (Cfr. Brandom, 2000, Sellars 1997) in the form of a conditional which renders that inference and argument valid and which is supposed to underwrite human rational discourse and activity, in line with a formalist approach. Also, inference is generally considered to be incomplete, because it doesn’t go through if one doesn’t accept that detached implicit premise In this paper I discuss an alleged problem of this style of assessment of arguments, conceptual content possession and inferential practice, in discourse from the point of view of an investigation of philosophical elements in teaching. Following some critics (Cfr. Brandom 2000, Sellars 1997, Dutilh Novaes 2015) I contend that the abovementioned practice of assessment overviews an important aspect of human (children) rationality. This fact doesn’t explain how different speakers in front of the same content can produce different and individual patterns of inferences while still maintaining an objective notion of content in communication among individuals Moreover, it does not take into account the possibility of a genuine extension of knowledge as it rather emphasizes that evaluating introduction and consequences of concepts involves only whether the inference is one that is already endorsed, so that no new content is really introduced. On the contrary my focus will be that to catch conceptual content is better represented not as implicit but rather as an explicit and social practice of giving and asking for reasons, in line with a dialectical approach and a socratic method (Cfr. Brandom 2000, Sellars ). This points to the aim of evaluating even new content from the point of view of determining whether that inference is one that ought to be endorsed (Brandom, 2000). According to this view a conceptual norm represents rationality if it can be identified with being a player in the social implicit normative game of offering reasons within a discoursive practice. Also (Cfr. Sellars 1997, Brandom 2000) inferences are better represented as ‘materially’ good because of the content of their non-logical vocabulary. I will show how one important difference between the two positions can be reduced to a different conception of the norm underlying conceptual content.


Stephen Miller
Bio:

Stephen Kekoa Miller has taught Philosophy and Religious Studies at Oakwood Friends School and Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York for 15 years. Stephen is the Treasurer and member of the Board of Directors of PLATO. Stephen’s research interests lately have centered on pre-college philosophy, philosophy of education, virtue ethics and emotions. Stephen is also VP of the United Nations Association-Mid Hudson Valley.

The Importance of Not Being Earnest: the Role of Irreverence in Philosophy and Moral Education

Abstract:

Remarkably little has been written about the need for irreverence in a philosophical classroom. Philosophy in a college classroom begins with an imbalance of power. Philosophy in a precollege setting magnifies this situation: the instructor in both settings generally gets to decide what’s important and what counts as germane. This is true for almost every subject. In philosophy, there is also the added weight of a tradition of difficulty. In a moral philosophy course, this problem is made even worse; to question socially-bound conclusions is bad enough, but to introduce a tone of playful banter can be seen as morally calloused. The result is stultifying.

Plato claims that “philosophy begins in wonder" (Theaetetus 155c-d1). To genuinely question the unquestioned causes a hole to open in the floor of certainty. This feeling (awe and wonder may be some of the hardest emotions to invoke) is the prerequisite to real philosophical thinking. Often however, paradoxically, it is the absence of irreverence that prevents real awe. In order to provoke moral seriousness in students, it is common to inadvertently “flatten” the moral world by injecting seriousness into everything; however when everything is serious, then nothing is. From zero-tolerance systems to shrill and overly concerned responses to morally minor issues like profanity or dress code violations, schools miss a real chance to open the vertigo of uncertainty.

Irreverence provides an antidote here. In this case, irreverence can come in two forms: conceptual and tonal. Conceptual irreverence involves the basic starting point of all real philosophy: nothing is sacred insofar as that means beyond the reach of “play” or exploration and adopting different perspectives. Tonal irreverence functions at the level of unseating previously established patterns of power -- it works to shatter dismiss the morally trivial from equal status from the truly serious.

Extensive recent research shows how this problem expresses itself in a distinctive pattern: lower functioning schools and highly strict charter schools strongly tend towards enforced tonal and conceptual reverence (i.e. an absence of intellectual “play.”) What Jonathan Kozol calls the “Ordering Regime” can be described this way: ”As racial isolation deepens and the inequalities of education finance remain unabated and take on new and more innovative forms, the principals of many inner-city schools are making choices that few principals in schools that serve suburban children ever need to contemplate….nothing even faintly frivolous took place while I was there. No one laughed. No child made a funny face to somebody beside her. “2 As odd as it can sound, this suggests the justice issue in the right to irreverence, to intellectual play.

In this presentation, I explore the role of conceptual and tonal irreverence, distinguish these from the more commonly discussed irony and perplexity and situate this topic more generally into the role of humor in pedagogy. Finally, the presentation demonstrates the link here to social justice and the ways that educational reform, in flattening the moral world, have elided the chance for wonder and reverence.

 

1 "The Internet Classics Archive | Theaetetus by Plato." 4 Oct. 2016

2 Kozol, J. "Success for All: Trying to Make an." 2009.


Chad Miller
Bio:

Dr. Chad Miller is the 2012 Hawaiʻi Teacher of the Year, a National Board Certified teacher, and is currently an Associate Specialist at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Institute for Teacher Education Secondary program. Additionally, Dr. Miller serves as the Director of Teacher Development at the University’s Uehiro Academy for Philosophy and Ethics in Education. In this “hybrid” role, Dr. Miller teaches Language Arts methods courses, as well as “Philosophy for Children” courses in the College of Education to secondary teacher candidates. He also serves as a Philosopher in Residence, where he collaborates with and supports teacher candidates and veteran K-12 teachers as they incorporate the activity of philosophy into their classroom practice through the use of the “Philosopher’s Pedagogy.” Regardless if he is thinking about the environmental implications of “driving” clouds with third graders, the cyclical nature of violence and drug abuse with sophomores in their Language Arts classes, or the value of living the “examined life” with undergraduates, Dr. Miller finds himself participating in extremely meaningful and rigorous philosophical inquiries with students and teachers each day.


Abstract:

At the 2015 PLATO conference in Seattle, I proudly presented the story of philosophy for children at Kailua High School, which is a “disadvantaged” Title I community that predominately consists of Native Hawaiian students. Nearly a decade ago, the school made a commitment to creating a more mindful and philosophical schooling experience and, as a result, p4c has become a widely used teaching practice in every subject area on campus. Since 2007, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Uehiro Academy for Philosophy and Ethics in Education has provided KHS a Philosopher in Residence whose primary duty is to assist teachers in bringing p4c and philosophical inquiry into their subject-specific classes. Due to the success of p4c, an increasing number of teachers in Kailua’s six elementary and two intermediate “feeder” schools have become interested in bringing p4c and the philosopher’s pedagogy into their classrooms. However, the rapid increase in interest created several challenges, namely, how can we support Kailua’s teachers in making p4c a “living and reliable educational option” (Lipman, 1988)? Like with many innovative initiatives in education, there is just not enough resources to adequately support these teachers efforts with additional coaching from Philosophers in Residence.

Our proposed solution to this budget shortfall was the philoSURFER Internship Project, where “expert” high school philosophers enroll in an internship, for-credit course that places them in kindergarten through ninth grade classrooms four times a week. (Kailua High School's mascot is the Surfrider and they are affectionately known as the Surfers, hence the philoSURFERS). Like the Philosophers in Residence they intern under, their primary duty is to aid teachers in engaging students in meaningful philosophical activity. Thus, the philoSURFERS participate alongside students and teachers as they explore the questions that matter most to the children. These teenagers then collaborate with teachers in planning and designing activities in order to help make philosophy, specifically p4c, become a successful approach to education. This fall represents the third semester of the Internship and the 13 current philoSURFERS are working alongside 37 teachers at seven different schools, which means roughly 950 kindergarten through ninth-grade students are engaging in philosophical inquiry due to their support.

The purpose of my presentation is to share what we have learned in the two years we have placed high school students in the role of Philosophers in Residence. Our reflections on the Kailua High School’s philoSURFER Internship Project will provide insights on how teenage students can be catalysts for making p4c an integral aspect of our children’s schooling experience. We have learned a tremendous amount and I believe this information can provide an alternate avenue to support educational reform in other districts and complexes.


Pedro Monque
Bio:

Pedro Monque is Bilingual Resource Specialist for Madison Metropolitan School District, where he works with underserved English Language Learners and their families at César Chávez Elementary School. He is also Teacher Aide at Trail to Success – High Ridge Trail, a pilot community empowerment and after-school program that serves low-income families from Chávez Elementary. In addition, he designs curriculum and volunteers as a facilitator for Empoderando a Latinoamérica, a youth-designed and youth-led program that reunites young Latin Americans working for social and environmental justice. Pedro holds a degree in Philosophy, magna cum laude with departmental distinction, from St. Olaf College and is a Philosophy in an Inclusive Key Summer Institute (PIKSI) alumnus.

By Youth, For Youth: The Empoderando a Latinoamerica Model for Social Justice Education

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Marcus Schweiger

Popular education initiatives in Latin America—a bold tradition encompassing the work of Paulo Freire, liberation theologians, and activists in virtually every field—offer much-needed models of social justice-focused philosophical outreach to underserved populations. That the Anglophone world could learn from such initiatives is not controversial; however, enduring barriers such as geographical distance, monolingualism, and unequal access to platforms from which to disseminate work across the North-South gap make it especially difficult for Latin American educators to share their insights with the more interconnected North.

The current gap in knowledge about philosophy outreach projects grounded in the tradition of Latin American popular education represents a missed opportunity to engage in fruitful exchanges that would increase the pedagogical and methodological diversity of pre-college philosophy. We aim to help start this process of cross-fertilization by presenting the philosophy outreach model developed by Empoderando a Latinoamérica (Empowering Latin America).

Empoderando a Latinoamérica is a youth-designed, youth-led four-week program whose aim is to empower emerging Latin American community leaders, artists, and activists working for social and environmental justice. The program brings together high-school and college-aged Latin Americans from diverse countries and backgrounds, establishing a community of inquiry wherein participants and facilitators discuss theoretical and practical issues toward becoming better agents of social change.

Empoderando a Latinoamérica is unorthodox in its structure and methodology—it is youth-led, horizontal, residential, multicultural, trilingual, and consists almost entirely of workshops and group activities as opposed to academic lectures. My presentation will focus on the following issues: First, I will show how Empoderando a Latinoamérica is an innovative approach to philosophy outreach. Here I will argue that the popular education value of horizontality leads to an intellectual atmosphere that embodies the reasons why we advocate philosophical discussion of social issues (e.g. questioning given answers on the origin and solution for different inequities) as well as pre-college philosophy more generally (e.g. independent thinking, identifying and addressing hidden assumptions and biases). I will also illustrate, through the use of qualitative and anecdotal evidence, the cruciality of diverse representation when forming communities of inquiry that discuss identity-based oppression. Second, I will provide a brief overview of what is required to design and execute a similar program from a student perspective. And third, I will sketch a model for how university professors can support college students engaged in such projects.

Finally, I raise the question of whether intellectually and emotionally unconstrained critique of power structures—possibly philosophy’s most important contribution to the fight for social justice—can happen in a traditional classroom setting, where both teachers and students are embedded in vertical power dynamics that limit the honesty of the exchange, and from which it is difficult to dissociate. I come to the optimistic conclusion that the pedagogical model of Empoderando a Latinoamérica proves that we can advance social justice through philosophical discussions in or outside the classroom.


William Mottolese
Bio:

William Mottolese teaches English and chairs the English Department at Sacred Heart Greenwich in Connecticut. Bill has been teaching at Sacred Heart for twelve years, and before that, he taught a Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana and Fordham University, earning his PhD in English at Fordham. At Sacred Heart, Bill started teaching philosophy several years ago as part of the school’s interdisciplinary capstone course, The Seminar in Literature and Thought. He has been active in PLATO since 2015 and serves on PLATO’s Education Committee. Bill is also on the faculty of the Center for Fiction in Manhattan where he leads classes on James Joyce, David Foster Wallace, Irish literature, and postcolonial literature. He has published and spoken widely on topics ranging from writing pedagogy to James Joyce. Bill is an award-winning teacher, published poet, and proud father of three children who bring him great joy.

Girls are Philosophers, Too: Philosophy at a Girls’ School

Abstract:

The purpose of this presentation is three-fold: 1) To share a successful pre-college philosophy program; 2) To argue for the centrality of philosophy in girls’ education; 3) To raise questions for discussion about high school philosophy and single-sex vs co-ed education. The presentation will argue that doing philosophy in an all girls classroom might look different than in a coed or boys classroom.

In this presentation I will explore the following:

  1. I will sketch out how we teach philosophy at Sacred Heart Greenwich. Sacred Heart Greenwich offers an interdisciplinary humanities course called The Seminar on Literature and Thought (Senior Seminar) that is the capstone course of the girls’ four years of education in the upper school. The course is a blend of philosophy, literature, theology, psychology, history etc. but is defined by its significant philosophical content. It builds on a junior year mandatory ethics course and a freshman year theology course with heavy philosophical content. All students take this course as seniors. The Senior Seminar meets almost daily and presents a public forum to the school once per eight-day cycle. Students regularly present their work at the forum. In many different ways, the whole school gest involved in Senior Seminar.

 

  1. Using JoAnn Deak’s work as a starting point, I will look at how girls experience this philosophical curriculum and argue that our very successful program has become an empowering place for girls to explore deep and challenging questions in their lives, and to find a space in their schedules for reflection in a stress-filled grade-conscious environment.

 

  1. I will open a discussion about the role of teaching philosophy on a pre-college level to girls in both single-sex and coed settings, especially in an era of STEM.

Several essential questions will be raised. Does philosophy play a unique role in helping girls find their voice? Is the teaching of philosophy in high school gendered and to what degree? Does a philosophy classroom with high school girls look different than a co-ed or all-boys class? What kinds of unique ways do girls process, embrace, and own philosophical thinking in a girl’s high school setting?


Michael S. Pritchard
Bio:

Michael S. Pritchard teaches at Western Michigan University, in the Department of Philosophy. His areas of study are: Ethical Theory; 18th Century British Moral Philosophy; Practical Ethics (Professional, Engineering, Business); Critical Thinking; Philosophy for Children; Moral Psychology

What is Greed?

Abstract:

We propose to discuss greed as a topic for philosophizing with children. All of us have some familiarity with greed. “Don’t be greedy” is a common admonition among adults and children alike. Even if the admonition (e.g., “Save some for others, too”; or “Don’t take more than your fair share”) is not especially welcome, the message is reasonably clear. Yet, this is not enough to yield a satisfying, comprehensive account of what greed is. Typically greed is regarded to involve some sort of excess, an unseemly “too much”. What is it that makes it an excess, or “too much”? And what makes it unseemly? A puzzling matter is that, even though greed is commonly viewed as bad, apparently there are many who hold that it can be good and, in fact, that it is necessary if there is to be prosperity—even for the less well off.

In short, the topic is complex, controversial, and important; and children as well as adults have much to say about it. This strikes us as an ideal “playing field” for engaging in philosophical reflection.

In the film Wall Street, Gordon Gekko famously pronounces, “Greed is good”. Without intending it, greed can serve us all by fueling the market place in ways that can help us all prosper more than it would if there were no greed. In Greed, a recent book of readings by economists and businesspersons, Nicola Horlick claims that without some desire to make money, which she equates with greed, the world would not function.1 Is the desire to make money an indication of greed?

Disney’s Uncle Scrooge McDuck would say, no. He claims to be guided by his conscience, acquiring his wealth only by means that are “fair and square,” while being committed to honesty and ensuring that his word is “as good as gold.” Thus, playing marbles or Monopoly, games with which many children are familiar, might have great appeal to McDuck, for one can “play for all the marbles” and win “fair and square”. Even so, can one exhibit greed in how one handles the winnings? Could McDuck be greedy in his unwillingness to share, no matter how fairly he may have acquired his gains?

In such games the rules may be clear and, on the face of it at least, fair; and the stakes may not be high. In the broader “game of life” matters are less clear. Operative rules may not be fair , or there may be no rules at all where there should be some (“There ought to be a law….”) Operative greed may have more free reign than it should, and help from others (including the poor) in attaining wealth may not be fully acknowledged or appreciated.

So, we think, there is much to think about and talk about, for children and adults alike. A discussion of playing for all the marbles or playing Monopoly might be a good place to start—or perhaps taking that last piece of cake when no one is looking….

1 Alexis Brassey and Stephen Barber, eds., Greed (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009), p. xv.


Shannon B. Proctor
Bio:

Shannon B. Proctor (Ph.D. Michigan State, 2013) is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy in the Humanities Department at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY). Her work develops the connections between phenomenology, feminist theory, and social philosophy, with a particular focus on the ways in which habits both impede and engender transformative action. Her article, “The Temporal Structure of Habits and the Possibility of Transformation,” is forthcoming in the International Journal of Applied Ethics. In addition, she is involved in several projects aimed at extending philosophy beyond the classroom, including prison outreach, LaGuardia's Philosophy for Children initiative, and Philosophy Goes to the Movies.

Philosophy with Children and the Heightening of Critical Consciousness: What Community College Can Teach Educators About Inclusiveness

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Cheri Carr & Dana Trusso

The Philosophy for Children (P4C) movement begun in the 1970s by Matthew Lipman is evolving. This evolution responds to concerns that while the P4C model explicitly champions a learner-centric and anti-authoritarian pedagogy, it inadvertently replicates the unacknowledged conformity and unstated privileges of the U.S.’s largely Euro-centric academic philosophical tradition. For example, Lipman’s research in the late 1970s and 80s concluded that already well-educated teachers nevertheless need a full year of P4C course work before they were prepared to make a real difference in their students’ reading and reasoning ability. [1] Lipman’s influence has been decisive on this issue. Until just a few months ago the pre-eminent guide to creating a P4C outreach program explicitly stated that graduate-level departments were the best fit for P4C outreach. If you search for models of P4C programs in community colleges, they do not exist. Luckily, not everyone agrees with Lipman about the amount of preparation necessary to effectively facilitate P4C. Thomas Wartenberg argued in 2009 that “[y]ou don’t have to know any philosophy to teach it.” [2] Indeed, Wartenberg suggests that if P4C instructors can teach children how to discuss philosophical issues, the instructors “will discover what philosophy is from helping [their] students discuss it.” [2] Wartenberg’s position is consistent with a conception of Community of Inquiry (CPI) that does not rely heavily on an authoritarian pedagogical model. Instead, it is understood that a community of inquiry is formed by student-facilitators acting as fully invested members of the community, still searching for answers, and possessed primarily of the skills of listening and questioning. This conception of the community of inquiry emphasizes thoughtfulness, open-mindedness, creativity, and respectful dialogue over reasonableness-oriented progress. It also facilitates the larger project of P4C’s evolution: re-orienting education towards its own de-colonization. To achieve the goal of genuine community of inquiry, dedication to problematizing the Euro-centric models of what counts as philosophical discourse, proper critique, and reasonableness that lay hidden within current P4C models is necessary. Building on the work Shannon Proctor and I began in the “Agora Initiative Feasibility Study” and the North American Association for the Community of Inquiry conference, my work here develops new models of P4C based in community colleges as a vibrant and untapped resource for course correcting P4C from within. These new models are based in rethinking the ideal characteristics of P4C facilitators and their standard norms of engagement to facilitate greater inclusiveness in cultivating shared autonomous critical thinking through cultivating the community of inquiry. Bringing two-year, community college students into the classroom to lead P4C discussions will produce a double pedagogical effect: students help children develop their critical reasoning skills while improving their own philosophical reasoning via their teaching. This will lead students to interrogation of the norms of philosophy generally, prevailing conceptions of the ‘philosopher’ and the broader value of philosophical practice for our communities and schools. Ideally, as scholars and as members of the community of inquiry we hope to create, we will also be in a position to learn a great deal from our community college students about how to make P4C practices more inclusive.

 

[1] “On Philosophy in the Curriculum: A Conversation with Matthew Lipman” Ron Brandt, p36, September 1988 Educational Leadership vol 46, n. 1 p34-37

 

[2] Wartenberg, Thomas. Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy Through Children’s Literature. R & L Education, 2009 P. 8.


Kyle Robertson
Bio:

Kyle Robertson is the Assistant Director of the Center for Public Philosophy at UC Santa Cruz and a Lecturer in the Philosophy Department there, where he teaches ethics, applied ethics, and formal logic. He runs a philosophy in the schools program, an ethics education program at the Santa Cruz County Jail, and Ethics Bowl programs for Northern California. Kyle is the founder and director of the Northern California High School Ethics Bowl, and is on the National High School Ethics Bowl steering committee. Kyle earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy from UC Santa Cruz and his J.D. from UC Berkeley.

Ethics Bowl as a Pedagogical Tool

Abstract:

Ethics Bowl is a debate format where teams of five students discuss a variety of applied ethical cases pulled from contemporary life. Hundreds of universities and high schools use the format for regional competitions, and there is a yearly national championship at both levels. In this presentation, we will discuss how to use Ethics Bowl’s methodology in local communities and individual classrooms, outside of sanctioned Ethics Bowl competitions.

We believe that the wide range of materials generated annually in support of Ethics Bowl events provides a rich set of resources that teachers can use to introduce ethical and political philosophy, public speaking skills, and norms of respectful, engaged dialogue into their classrooms. In contrast to methods that assign positions or lead students toward a ‘right’ answer, Ethics Bowl asks students to present their own views, empowers them to invest in their own thought processes, and teaches them to engage thoughtfully with others’ opinions. The competitive aspect of the bowl creates a playful environment where students are encouraged to engage in light-hearted rivalry as well as comradery.

The Ethics Bowl format also has pragmatic benefits for teachers. The Ethics Bowl cases are immediately understandable and interesting to everyone, as many are drawn from widely discussed current events, and they cover issues and concerns students are already discussing. Between the high school and collegiate events, 60 new cases are published annually, so there are always fresh, timely cases to use in any classroom.


S - Z

Bart Schultz
Bio:

Bart Schultz is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Executive Director of the Civic Knowledge Project at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1987.  He has published very widely in philosophy, and his books include Essays on Henry Sidgwick (Cambridge, 1992), Henry Sidgwick: Eye of the Universe (Cambridge, 2004, and winner of the American Philosophical Society's Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History), Utilitarianism and Empire (Lexington, 2005, with Georgios Varouxakis), and The Happiness Philosophers (Princeton, 2017).  Through the Civic Knowledge Project, he has developed a wide array of public ethics programs affording rich opportunities for building community connections on the South Side of Chicago, including the award-winning Winning Words Precollegiate Philosophy Program.  He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization (PLATO), and serves on the Editorial Board of Utilitas.

Pre-College Philosophy, Social Justice, and Learning Disabilities: How Pre-College Philosophy Can Help Overcome Educational Injustice Relating to Autism

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Christopher Flint

The University of Chicago Civic Knowledge Project runs a precollege philosophy program called Winning Words, which seeks to bring philosophy to a wide and diverse range of underserved younger learners on Chicago’s mid-South Side.  Winning Words works in many very special contexts, one of which is the relatively new private school City Elementary.  City Elementary serves a small group of elementary school diverse learners, including those on the autism spectrum.  Working in close collaboration with the staff at City Elementary, Winning Words is trying to develop a unique form of precollege philosophy instruction for these students, but one that would have broad applicability to other schools and programs.

To this end, the Winning Words team is working directly with City Elementary’s Head-of-School Christopher Flint, a nationally recognized expert on autism. Both Flint and CKP Director Bart Schultz, the authors of this proposal, believe that certain forms of philosophy are particularly well-suited to help students with autism with their communication and socialization skills, including the cultivation of empathy and perspective taking.  However, such learners require a very carefully designed curriculum that, among other things, maximizes regularity and familiar routine, provides relevant visual aids illustrating the effects of spoken words, presents new information packaged in ways that speak to the student’s special interests.  The Winning Words program at City Elementary has adapted selected Aesopian fables and portions of White’s The Once and Future King in an effort to bring together these elements in an engaging philosophical way that both enables theatrical performance and facilitates discussion of ethical issues.

The presentation proposed here will use the work at City Elementary as a resource for illustrating and outlining general guidelines for doing precollege philosophy with students on the autism spectrum.  The presentation will contextualize this work by describing the larger social injustices suffered by students on the autism spectrum in U.S. educational system, their dearth of appropriate learning opportunities (especially in terms of philosophical pedagogy), and the important role that appropriately designed precollege philosophy could play in enhancing their educational and social opportunities.


Marcus Schweiger
Bio:

Marcus Schweiger is a PhD student in philosophy at Fordham University, focusing on 19th century aesthetics and art theory. He is also a member of the organizing committee for Fordham Graduate Workers, Fordham’s graduate student union, and a member of the steering committee for the New York Society for Women in Philosophy. As a NYSWIP member, he is part of a team that runs SWIPShop, a workshop for papers in feminist philosophy that meets several times per semester.

By Youth, For Youth: The Empoderando a Latinoamerica Model for Social Justice Education

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Pedro Monque

Popular education initiatives in Latin America—a bold tradition encompassing the work of Paulo Freire, liberation theologians, and activists in virtually every field—offer much-needed models of social justice-focused philosophical outreach to underserved populations. That the Anglophone world could learn from such initiatives is not controversial; however, enduring barriers such as geographical distance, monolingualism, and unequal access to platforms from which to disseminate work across the North-South gap make it especially difficult for Latin American educators to share their insights with the more interconnected North.

The current gap in knowledge about philosophy outreach projects grounded in the tradition of Latin American popular education represents a missed opportunity to engage in fruitful exchanges that would increase the pedagogical and methodological diversity of pre-college philosophy. We aim to help start this process of cross-fertilization by presenting the philosophy outreach model developed by Empoderando a Latinoamérica (Empowering Latin America).

Empoderando a Latinoamérica is a youth-designed, youth-led four-week program whose aim is to empower emerging Latin American community leaders, artists, and activists working for social and environmental justice. The program brings together high-school and college-aged Latin Americans from diverse countries and backgrounds, establishing a community of inquiry wherein participants and facilitators discuss theoretical and practical issues toward becoming better agents of social change.

Empoderando a Latinoamérica is unorthodox in its structure and methodology—it is youth-led, horizontal, residential, multicultural, trilingual, and consists almost entirely of workshops and group activities as opposed to academic lectures. My presentation will focus on the following issues: First, I will show how Empoderando a Latinoamérica is an innovative approach to philosophy outreach. Here I will argue that the popular education value of horizontality leads to an intellectual atmosphere that embodies the reasons why we advocate philosophical discussion of social issues (e.g. questioning given answers on the origin and solution for different inequities) as well as pre-college philosophy more generally (e.g. independent thinking, identifying and addressing hidden assumptions and biases). I will also illustrate, through the use of qualitative and anecdotal evidence, the cruciality of diverse representation when forming communities of inquiry that discuss identity-based oppression. Second, I will provide a brief overview of what is required to design and execute a similar program from a student perspective. And third, I will sketch a model for how university professors can support college students engaged in such projects.

Finally, I raise the question of whether intellectually and emotionally unconstrained critique of power structures—possibly philosophy’s most important contribution to the fight for social justice—can happen in a traditional classroom setting, where both teachers and students are embedded in vertical power dynamics that limit the honesty of the exchange, and from which it is difficult to dissociate. I come to the optimistic conclusion that the pedagogical model of Empoderando a Latinoamérica proves that we can advance social justice through philosophical discussions in or outside the classroom.


Hira Shah
Bio:

Hira Shah is a senior at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, CA. She is the founder and president of the Mira Costa Young Philosophers' Society. Over the course of the last four years, Hira has overseen the integration of philosophical education into all schools in the Manhattan Beach Unified School District. Hira recently moved to the United States after several years of study in France at the Lycée International de Saint Germain-en-Laye, where she observed the French approach to the integration of philosophy into the curriculum.

Philosophy in the Classroom and Community of Mira Costa High School (Poster Session)

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Stacy Cabrera

In the age of standardized testing, philosophical inquiry in public education often falls by the wayside. Mira Costa High School of Manhattan Beach has spearheaded multiple initiatives to integrate philosophy into both the high school classroom and the surrounding community.


We are now in the second year of our Senior Philosophy in Literature course, Mira Costa’s first class focusing specifically on philosophy. A key issue in the development of public high school philosophy courses is the difficulty of selecting of texts that both provide a comprehensive
understanding of philosophy and meet school standards. Philosophy in Literature was approved as a substitute for college preparatory twelfth-grade English. The course focuses on the intersection of philosophy and literature, emphasizing questions regarding the nature of identity, belief, choice, and living. The course is divided into four units, each addressing a key philosophical question.


David Shapiro
Bio:

David Shapiro is a faculty member at Cascadia Community College, where he teaches college philosophy classes that draw heavily upon his experiences and lesson plans for doing philosophy with pre-college students. In his role as Education Director of the University of Washington's Center for Philosophy for Children, he has been doing philosophy with young people in and around the Seattle area since he was a graduate student at the University of Washington way back in the 20th century. David is the author and/or co-author of six books, including most recently, Plato Was Wrong! Footnotes on Doing Philosophy with Young People, a compendium of activities, exercises, and games he has developed for exploring philosophical questions in the classroom and beyond.

Exploring Race and Social Inequalities with Fifth Grade Students

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Jana Mohr Lone

This workshop will engage the participants in thinking about race and social inequalities, against the background of a year-long project that explored these issues with four groups of fifth grade students at a public school in Seattle.

Thurgood Marshall is an interesting and unusual school. It has a General Education program, which serves neighborhood students who are almost entirely students of color with about 70% qualifying for free and reduced price lunches, and is also one of the Seattle's hosts of the "Highly Capable Cohort (HCC)," which serves students who are mostly white and Asian, largely from middle to upper income families. These two programs have in the past been completely separate, and the school has for the past couple of years been working on ways to ensure that all the children have access to a rigorous and enriching education. Connecting the community and giving the students experiences working together is one of the school's goals.

As part of those goals, four instructors from the UW Center for Philosophy for Children led philosophy discussions all year for all of the school’s fifth grade students, approximately 125 children, in groups that were a mix of students from the General Education and HCC programs, with a focus on social justice and race issues.

The workshop will describe the experience of this project, including its successes and challenges. We will then involve the workshop participants in an interactive dialogue, using one or two of the more successful lesson plans that were utilized by the project.


Peter Shea
Bio:

Peter Shea has a Ph.D. in moral philosophy from the University of Minnesota, with a thesis exploring the importance of life histories as sources for moral thinking and teaching. For the last twenty years, he has produced a regional television show, The Bat of Minerva, devoted to presenting the lives of thoughtful and creative people in one-hour interviews. In collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota, these interviews have been assembled into a streaming archive; the archive currently contains over 300 interviews. Shea’s collaboration with the Institute has also resulted in some special grant projects, including a 2012 oral history interview project to gather food stories and stories about small scale agriculture from Southwest Minnesota.

Over his career, Shea has taught philosophy courses at several institutions in Minnesota, with substantial teaching at Gustavus Adolphus College, Metropolitan State University, the University of St. Thomas, and the University of Minnesota. Shea is part of a teaching team that regularly plans and conducts a University of Minnesota Philosophy course: “Lives Worth Living: Questions of Self, Vocation, and Community” as a residential experience in rural Minnesota.

Utilizing Lived Experiences as Stimulus for Philosophical Discussions: the Integration of Story Circles and Philosophy for Children

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Ariel Sykes

This presentation will explore the use of story circles in enriching philosophical inquiries with people of all ages, in any context, around topics related to social justice. Storytelling has long been used within social justice movements to honor and give voice to the lived experiences of marginalized groups.  Thus, we see storytelling (through the structure of a story circle) as an effective and personally meaningful way of entering into philosophical discussions around social justice topics. We believe that the combined use of story circles and philosophical communities of inquiry can provide:

  • increased awareness of different lived experiences and perspectives
  • embodied community building
  • increased understanding of abstract concepts within lived experiences
  • reflection on personal and collective misunderstandings and assumptions
  • space for collective action and change

While philosophy provides a useful framework for understanding our lived experiences, philosophical communities of inquires often fall short in changing how we live in the world (though this is the aim of engaging in sustained critical dialogue and reflection around philosophical topics). We believe that story circles have the potential to provide that bridge by helping us to realize the shared philosophical complexity in our lives so that we can learn from it.  In our presentation we will discuss how story circles can provide a unique community building and real life experience that enriches the depth and significance of the community of philosophical inquiry.

Our presentation will cover the following three areas:

  1. Overview of the historical significance of story circles and connection to social justice
  2. Description of the story circle structure and how it can be used as a way of philosophizing
  3. Examples from classrooms (K-12 & College) that have used story circles and philosophical communities of inquiry to discuss social justice topics such as freedom and inequality.

Jack Stephenson
Bio: Kevin Barry and Jack Stephenson teach at Evanston Township High School. Over the last nine years, they developed Evanston’s Philosophy course, as well as many philosophical units that have been incorporated into their respective English and history classes at ETHS.  Their goal has always been to create lessons that can engage all students in Evanston’s multi-faceted mixed-ability classrooms.

Why Plato Didn’t Like Art

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Kevin Barry

Rationale: Given the current trends in secondary education, it seems easier to integrate philosophy into existing courses. An example of this integration could be “Plato’s Thoughts on Art,” because this topic could be relevant in a wide variety of courses (e.g., English, art, history, sociology, and psychology).

Background: When discussing Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” some people focus on the potentially illusive nature of the world (i.e., the shadows), or on the interaction between a seeker of truth and society (i.e., the guards and the other prisoners).

Perhaps the chains in Plato’s allegory deserve more attention. It’s impossible to identify the chains on our perception of reality, unless one presumes to already know life’s ultimate truths with philosophical certitude. Nevertheless, this problem need not be a conversation killer regarding the impact of chains on perception.

If we accept the physical world (extension) as real, we can still examine the “chains” that distort our perception of it. Examples of these chains include:

  • optical illusions

  • semiotic codes

  • language

  • personal experience/connections that the perceiver projects onto the thing being perceived

These examples can be addresses in a lecture/discussion format, but an interactive task would help young students to connect with the topic. For example, when students are asked to draw a photorealistic rendering of the American flag in the classroom, their failure stems mostly from their tendency to draw their mental construct of the flag rather than the actual flag in the room. Thus, the flag reminds us that familiarity with an iconic image may actually make a particular object less visible.

A second demonstration could be the work of Aaron Koblin (e.g., the Johnny Cash Project), who creates interactive websites which allow visitors to contribute to the final product presented on the sight. His work raises questions about the distinction between the artist and the audience, as well as questions about art-as-creation vs. art-as-experience.

Returning to Plato, he insisted that we could never experience the Forms in the physical world, only vague copies of the Forms. Thus, art, like all other things, is never fully perceived by people. But why single out art for specific criticism, as opposed to chairs or trees, which are also weak imitations of Forms?

Possible answer: We have to work diligently to shed the chains, or at least always be contemplating the chains, but art forces even the most disciplined minds to lose sight of that task. It is about the feeling that the image of the art brings to an observer’s brain. While people may argue that they can remain dispassionate about artifacts, typical human behavior suggests otherwise. Examples of objects that elicited a visceral reaction from people included

  • Duchamp’s urinal,

  • “Piss Christ,”

  • the “Levitating Mass,” and

  • Richard Tuttle’s wire pieces.

Typically, it was the identification of these objects as art that engaged people more than the objects in and of themselves. Are these attempts at art being treated as the Form of art? When people revere certain attempts at art by placing these attempts in museums, or by assigning a dollar value to them, people seem to be saying that the object has become art, transcending the physical and the metaphysical realms. This transcendence is what Plato insists is impossible, and this might be why Plato considered the topic of art to be a particular chain that needed explicit discussion.

Finally, the topic of art is relevant to the conference’s overarching theme of social justice. The practice of labeling artworks as either legitimate or illegitimate speaks as much to the sociopolitical environment in which the works exist as it does to the objects themselves.


Dave Stovall
Bio:

David Stovall, Ph.D. is Professor of Educational Policy Studies and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). His scholarship investigates four areas 1) Critical Race Theory, 2) concepts of social justice in education, 3) the relationship between housing and education, and 4) the relationship between schools and community stakeholders. In the attempt to being theory to action, he has spent the last ten years working with community organizations and schools to develop curriculum that address issues of social justice. His current work led him to become a member of the design team for the Greater Lawndale/Little Village School of Social Justice, which opened in the Fall of 2005. Furthering his work with communities, students, and teachers, Stovall is involved with youth-centered community organizations in Chicago, New York and the Bay Area. Currently this work manifests itself in his involvement with the Peoples Education Movement Chicago, a collection of classroom teachers, community members, students and university professors who engage in collaborative community projects centered in creating relevant classroom based pedagogical strategies and curriculum. In addition to his duties and responsibilities as a professor at UIC, he also serves as a volunteer social studies teacher at the Greater Lawndale/Little Village School for Social Justice.

Resisting the Racial Contract in ‘School’: Critical Race Theory, Community Resistance, and the Future of Education (Featured Speaker)

Abstract:
Ariel Sykes
Bio:

Ariel Sykes has her BA from Mount Holyoke College and her MA from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her interests are in Philosophy of Education with a specific focus on Philosophy for Children. She is an endorsed practitioner of the IAPC (The Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children) and recently established an educational non-profit called The Enquiry Project, that draws on the practice of philosophy for children and the community of inquiry method. Ariel works as a research associate and adjunct professor in New Jersey. She also serves as the communication coordinator for PLATO.

Utilizing Lived Experiences as Stimulus for Philosophical Discussions: the Integration of Story Circles and Philosophy for Children

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Peter Shea

This presentation will explore the use of story circles in enriching philosophical inquiries with people of all ages, in any context, around topics related to social justice. Storytelling has long been used within social justice movements to honor and give voice to the lived experiences of marginalized groups.  Thus, we see storytelling (through the structure of a story circle) as an effective and personally meaningful way of entering into philosophical discussions around social justice topics. We believe that the combined use of story circles and philosophical communities of inquiry can provide:

  • increased awareness of different lived experiences and perspectives
  • embodied community building
  • increased understanding of abstract concepts within lived experiences
  • reflection on personal and collective misunderstandings and assumptions
  • space for collective action and change

While philosophy provides a useful framework for understanding our lived experiences, philosophical communities of inquires often fall short in changing how we live in the world (though this is the aim of engaging in sustained critical dialogue and reflection around philosophical topics). We believe that story circles have the potential to provide that bridge by helping us to realize the shared philosophical complexity in our lives so that we can learn from it.  In our presentation we will discuss how story circles can provide a unique community building and real life experience that enriches the depth and significance of the community of philosophical inquiry.

Our presentation will cover the following three areas:

  1. Overview of the historical significance of story circles and connection to social justice
  2. Description of the story circle structure and how it can be used as a way of philosophizing
  3. Examples from classrooms (K-12 & College) that have used story circles and philosophical communities of inquiry to discuss social justice topics such as freedom and inequality.

Debi Talukdar
Bio:

Debi Talukdar is a Ph.D candidate at the College of Education, University of Washington. Her research focuses on using philosophical inquiry as a pedagogy for reflection in teacher professional development. She has been a fellow with the UW Center for Philosophy for Children for the past 2 years and continues to do philosophy with a diverse range of kindergarten to 5th grade students in Seattle. She currently serves on the center’s board and PLATO’s research and advocacy subcommittee. Debi also teaches introductory courses in the Early Childhood and Family Studies program at the UW. Previously, she has worked with teachers and students at schools in India, and with the residential childcare system in the UK. When she is not working Debi enjoys cooking and yoga.

Philosophy with Teachers: Using Picture Books to Teach Social Justice | Using Philosophical Inquiry to Discuss Equity through the Game “Difference”

Abstract:

Using Picture Books to Teach Social Justice

co-presenting with Jana Mohr Lone

This paper will unpack the impact of engaging in philosophical inquiry with a group of teachers within a professional learning community (PLC), who meet for an hour once a month through the 2016-17 school year. In particular it will explore how teachers use this space to talk about topics of social justice. These topics could range from conversations on power, privilege, racial injustice, gender norms, sexuality, class inequities, and other related topic areas. The 4 teachers in this PLC are all White 5th grade teachers whose students also participate in an hour long philosophy session every other week. Three are women and one is male.

These sessions of inquiry are structured very much like a typical philosophy session in a classroom with young people (Lipman, 2003; 2010) where the facilitator typically uses a picture book prompt to encourage wonder and questioning. The bulk of the session is spent exploring in depth some of the questions generated. It has been established that philosophy for children is an effective pedagogy for helping children grow their confidence and control over their cognitive skills (Trickey and Topping, 2004), and allowing them to consider their own assumptions and others’ points of view (Millet and Tapper, 2011) towards being critical and creative thinkers. However, there has not been any formal research to see the impact of using this pedagogy with an adult population like teachers.

Having been an observer of PLC work over the last school year and continuing to do so this year in south Seattle, where the schools typically serve a diverse and multicultural population, it has clearly evident that teachers are considering social justice issues on a daily basis both inside and outside the classroom (Zeichner and Flessner, 2009). Promising outcomes from last year lead me to believe that engaging teachers in philosophical inquiry using story prompts can have great value for them professionally and personally. Teachers are constantly grappling with what it means to be a social justice educator and often do not have the space to come to a shared understanding of what that could look like in practice (Sandel, 2009). This space hopes to address that gap.

While some topics of social justice are often implied by the choice of stimulus presented to the teachers prior to a philosophical discussion taking place, the teachers are never told at any point what they are expected to talk about. Pauline Lipman (2004) outlines 4 imperatives that frame a vision for social justice education – equity, agency, cultural relevance, and critical literacy. I am interested in seeing how often and in what ways teachers bring up these themes in their discussions around different social justice topics. I am also going to speak to the ways in which teachers talk about these things both personally and professionally.

Specifically, here are the questions this work will address:

  • How are teachers thinking about social justice topics within the PLC?
  • What is the relationship between professional development and personal growth?

 


Using Philosophical Inquiry to Discuss Equity and Fairness through a Board Game Called "Difference"

Philosophical inquiry is a pedagogy for encouraging critical thinking and personal reflection. It fosters an intellectually safe community, active listening, and encourages participants to develop and evaluate a range of perspectives across a variety of social justice issues. Through this workshop, we will demonstrate how teachers and facilitators can use philosophical inquiry to discuss inequity and fairness in their classrooms through a free-to-print-and-play board game called Difference.

Original Context

Difference was designed, by the presenter, in response to a deep and searching semester-long inquiry into issues of race and class by a classroom of 5th graders in an urban Northwestern Elementary School. The school uses a controversial academic tracking system that makes race and class divides particularly visible to students. Grappling with these divisions students actively steered their weekly philosophy sessions into a space to discuss race and class. To support and enhance this inquiry a number of children’s books that provide perspectives on issues of race and class such as Deborah Wiles’ Freedom Summer were shared with students. Difference was designed, within this context, to extend students’ discussions of inequity and fairness even further.

Following the success of Difference in its original context, the presenter has been invited to demo the game in several workshop settings including the Northwest Conference on Teaching for Social Justice, The Evergreen State College’s Equitable Learning Activity Design Summer Institute, and at the North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA). Attendees at these workshops have reported their own success in using Difference in their own contexts with students. Difference continues to be used in multiple Elementary school classrooms in the Northwest and has been played in several University of Washington Philosophy for Children seminars. It would be an honor to share Difference with the attendees of the PLATO conference as well, and a pleasure to hear and learn from the feedback of the PLATO attendees as well.

In the proposed workshop for PLATO, the two presenters will facilitate gameplay of Difference, run the debrief, and solicit audience feedback. Further, we will also share local stories about the experience of using this game and solicit local stories from attendees about their experiences using games and simulations to explore issues of inequity and fairness. If time allows we will prompt the audience to do a small group collaborative design activity: to modify just one rule in Difference that they believe will allow it to get even further into issues of power, positionality and privilege.


John Torrey
Bio:

My name is John Torrey, I’m a doctoral candidate in Philosophy at the University of Memphis and have presented at PLATO in the past. I am committed to doing pre-college philosophy with underrepresented and under-privileged groups. I believe philosophy has unique value in giving members of these groups critical tools to address the world they live in; increased exposure to philosophy in a relevant way which produces increased chances for philosophy to be practiced by a more diverse population; and recognizing the value of pre-college philosophy on diversifying the discipline. I have done this in Memphis with the Philosophical Horizons program as well as presented some research on this in recent years.

What Do We Mean by “Pre-College Philosophy”: Avoiding Conservatism in the Pre-College Classroom

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Jonathan Wurtz

Pre-college philosophy has gained world-wide popularity over the last three decades and with it a growing literature on its benefits and goals has emerged. Generally speaking, proponents of the movement have argued in favor of it on three fronts: its emphasis on critical thinking (Winstanley 2008), moral character development (Kunzman 2006), and autonomy of thought (Lipman 2007 and Murris 2008). These arguments are meant to reflect the academic and intellectual benefits of practicing philosophy at the pre-college level and can also be used to highlight some of the socio-political advantages of pre-college philosophy in democratic societies (Lipman 1997, Brighouse 2008, Hess 2009). All in all, if we follow the argumentative line presented to us, pre-college philosophy is understood as a good (maybe even radical) practice valuable for both the community and its students.

While these arguments do hold merit and attention, they also reflect a lack of consideration for the diverse student body they can potentially benefit. While some of the literature does focus on this, diversity is usually portrayed as an outcome or symptom of pre-college philosophy (Weinberg 2006 and Leiter 2015) rather than as a condition for it. This is problematic for practitioners who teach philosophy to under-privileged and under-represented student populations, as ignoring the necessity of engaging these populations misses the value of doing pre-college philosophy with a goal of diversifying practitioners of philosophy.

There are additional values to purposefully doing philosophy with underprivileged and under-represented groups. This is its ability to give these specific groups critical tools to engage the world they live in, one that is often markedly different from the world that regularly represented groups in philosophy experience. Additionally, this exposure to philosophy in a way that is relevant to their experience prior to the college arena produces increased chances for philosophy to be adopted by a more diverse population inside and outside professional philosophy.

The lack of diversity in professional philosophy—both conceptually and physically speaking—entails a disinterest on the part of philosophers regarding how current professional practices and norms can be alienating (Dotson 2012). Give this background, many of the arguments about the value of pre-college philosophy ignore what happens when value is attached to the possibility of diversifying the discipline. For those who argue that diversity is a necessary step for growing the discipline of philosophy, pre-college philosophy could be seen as a way to help grow future generations of diverse practitioners of philosophy.

The lack of consideration for elements of diversity in pre-college classrooms, we argue, is reflective of the broader lack of diversity in professional philosophy. In this presentation, we aim to illuminate the shortcomings and potential harm of using the arguments mentioned above as a basis for justifying the use of philosophical dialogue in pre-college classrooms—especially those with diverse student bodies.


Laura Trongard
Bio:

Laura Trongard is a National Board Certified high school teacher in Oceanside, New York. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Hofstra University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. She also completed a Masters of Science in Secondary Education at Hofstra University. She has written curriculum for an Integrated Advanced Placement World History and English Honors course, Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics, a News Literacy course and a yearlong mentoring course in which seniors in high school mentor freshmen. Laura has also developed training materials for high school sophomores to teach philosophy to students in kindergarten through sixth grade. She has been recognized as a 2016 Collaborator of Excellence by the New York State English Council for her work relating to the Philosophy program in Oceanside.

Methods for Engaging Children in Philosophical Discussion

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Mitch Bickman

Philosophy for All, inspired by Thomas Wartenberg’s Big Ideas for Little Kids is a unique program where Oceanside High School students visit elementary classrooms using picture books to tap into children’s natural abstract thinking and begin to provide a framework for helping students to develop reasoning skills.  Picture books provide a natural point of entry into which to begin to dissect, wrestle with, and discuss big ideas and questions that surround students in their lives.  The goal is for students to build a framework for questioning and thinking about things more critically by asking questions to better understand their world.

At the earliest stages of schooling children are ripe for philosophical inquiry. As children develop, they are trying to make sense of the world as they experience things for the first time, so to them asking questions is a natural part of their development.

Through philosophical questioning, we can tap into children’s natural abstract thinking and begin to provide a framework for helping students to develop reasoning skills.

To engage in philosophical inquiry, children do not need to understand the ideas of history’s greatest philosophers. What they do need is their natural inquisitiveness and the willingness to take part in an ongoing dialogue. The best place to start is with something that they have already had great exposure to - picture books. Picture books provide a natural point of entry where students can begin to dissect, wrestle with, and discuss big ideas and questions that surround them in their lives.

The true power of Oceanside’s program was recognized by putting it in the hands of high school students. Whereas Professor Wartenberg trains his college students to facilitate this work, Oceanside adapted Thomas Wartenberg’s work by training high school students to facilitate these philosophical discussions. The assumption by many was that high school students with no formal philosophical background could not execute such challenging work, but as our videos attest to, high school students shined in this role, facilitating engaging philosophical discussions with Oceanside’s K-6 students. Having the ability to interact with children at the other end of the K-12 spectrum is unique and adds an element to this program that strengthens the process of learning at all levels.

Over the course of this past school year ELA and Social Studies teachers worked together to train a cohort of sixty high school sophomores to lead philosophical discussions. After training these students, we brought them to work with students in grades K-6, and through the lens of books such as The Important Book, Emily’s Art, and Frog and Toad “Dragons and Giants,” we began the process of building a framework for thinking and questioning for our youngest learners. Since we introduced this program into our elementary schools, teachers in these classrooms have noticed students using reasoning with greater frequency to support their answers, as well as students being more reflective when taking part in class discussions. In addition, students now regularly use phrases such as “I respectfully disagree” when responding to their classmates.

This session will take participants through entire process of training high school students to lead philosophical discussion with elementary students. We will share insights and videos from our experiences, model a philosophical discussion using a picture book, and discuss what students on both ends of the K-12 spectrum take from this unique and valuable experience.

Videos: https://youtu.be/iAF8Ar8bdKM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrsx91pQ8Uo


Dana Trusso
Bio:

Dana Trusso is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY). She teaches Introduction to Philosophy in the cluster “World of Passions,” Ethics and Moral Issues in the Honors Program, Philosophy of Religion, and Philosophy of Love. She coordinates Philosophy Goes to the Movies, an offshoot of Philosophy Club, and is a co-organizer for the Annual CUNY Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. Dr. Trusso received her B.A. from Baylor University in Philosophy with minors in History and Religion (2003), and an M.A. (2008) and Ph.D. (2015) in Philosophy from Duquesne University. Dr. Trusso’s areas of specialization include Ancient Greek Philosophy and Philosophy of Love, and her research interests are deeply tied to the courses she offers as they center on philosophical eros as pedagogical ascent in Plato’s Symposium and Phaedrus.

Philosophy with Children and the Heightening of Critical Consciousness: What Community College Can Teach Educators About Inclusiveness

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Cheri Carr & Shannon Proctor

The Philosophy for Children (P4C) movement begun in the 1970s by Matthew Lipman is evolving. This evolution responds to concerns that while the P4C model explicitly champions a learner-centric and anti-authoritarian pedagogy, it inadvertently replicates the unacknowledged conformity and unstated privileges of the U.S.’s largely Euro-centric academic philosophical tradition. For example, Lipman’s research in the late 1970s and 80s concluded that already well-educated teachers nevertheless need a full year of P4C course work before they were prepared to make a real difference in their students’ reading and reasoning ability. [1] Lipman’s influence has been decisive on this issue. Until just a few months ago the pre-eminent guide to creating a P4C outreach program explicitly stated that graduate-level departments were the best fit for P4C outreach. If you search for models of P4C programs in community colleges, they do not exist. Luckily, not everyone agrees with Lipman about the amount of preparation necessary to effectively facilitate P4C. Thomas Wartenberg argued in 2009 that “[y]ou don’t have to know any philosophy to teach it.” [2] Indeed, Wartenberg suggests that if P4C instructors can teach children how to discuss philosophical issues, the instructors “will discover what philosophy is from helping [their] students discuss it.” [2] Wartenberg’s position is consistent with a conception of Community of Inquiry (CPI) that does not rely heavily on an authoritarian pedagogical model. Instead, it is understood that a community of inquiry is formed by student-facilitators acting as fully invested members of the community, still searching for answers, and possessed primarily of the skills of listening and questioning. This conception of the community of inquiry emphasizes thoughtfulness, open-mindedness, creativity, and respectful dialogue over reasonableness-oriented progress. It also facilitates the larger project of P4C’s evolution: re-orienting education towards its own de-colonization. To achieve the goal of genuine community of inquiry, dedication to problematizing the Euro-centric models of what counts as philosophical discourse, proper critique, and reasonableness that lay hidden within current P4C models is necessary. Building on the work Shannon Proctor and I began in the “Agora Initiative Feasibility Study” and the North American Association for the Community of Inquiry conference, my work here develops new models of P4C based in community colleges as a vibrant and untapped resource for course correcting P4C from within. These new models are based in rethinking the ideal characteristics of P4C facilitators and their standard norms of engagement to facilitate greater inclusiveness in cultivating shared autonomous critical thinking through cultivating the community of inquiry. Bringing two-year, community college students into the classroom to lead P4C discussions will produce a double pedagogical effect: students help children develop their critical reasoning skills while improving their own philosophical reasoning via their teaching. This will lead students to interrogation of the norms of philosophy generally, prevailing conceptions of the ‘philosopher’ and the broader value of philosophical practice for our communities and schools. Ideally, as scholars and as members of the community of inquiry we hope to create, we will also be in a position to learn a great deal from our community college students about how to make P4C practices more inclusive.

 

[1] “On Philosophy in the Curriculum: A Conversation with Matthew Lipman” Ron Brandt, p36, September 1988 Educational Leadership vol 46, n. 1 p34-37

 

[2] Wartenberg, Thomas. Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy Through Children’s Literature. R & L Education, 2009 P. 8.


Wendy Turgeon
Bio:

Wendy Turgeon is a professor of philosophy at St. Joseph’s College-NY. She has been involved in philosophy for young people and children for a while, publishing and presenting at conferences. Her current focus is the philosophical themes in fairy tales as well as environmental ethics and the relationship between humans and animals.

Not the Fairy Tale Ending: Thinking about Social Justice through Fairy Tales

Abstract:

Fairy tales remain popular stories for children and as realized by the Disney corporation, they dominate the imagination of children and young people. Many of my undergraduates continue to love the Disney phenomenon and become excited to watch and discuss new fairy tale movies, such as Frozen. Adutls view them as a necessary and helpful part of childhood to encourage imagination and bring happiness along with an element of magic into their lives. We may think of these stories as simplistic morality tales where goodness always wins, or fantastical accounts with the inevitability of the happy ending. But what about the dark underside of fairy tales?

Fairy tales in earlier times offered people a safe way to challenge social and political systems through the guise of a simple story. Current practices could be put up for scrutiny and the inequalities of rich and poor, aristocrats and commoners, men and women, could be turned upside down, problematized, and challenged. As simple “folk tales” they could be shared among the people as harmless amusements but with an underlying cynical bite of social commentary. Their primary audience was adults, not children. It was not until Victorian times that fairy tales were tamed and firmly ensconced in the nursery. So there is good precedent for bringing fairy tales back into the lives of teens and adults.

The origins of the European tradition of fairy tales remains a hotly contested debate with some intriguing models of analysis. One position argues that they originated with national folk and represent an oral literature of the illiterate, capturing the “pure” folk traditions and beliefs. Another interpretation claims that they represent a form of collective unconscious of humankind—akin to myth—or that they offer children ways to negotiate the perils of sexual awakenings. A controversial contemporary argument suggests that they were carefully crafted by skilled literary figures and were not of folk origins at all. Despite all of these theoretical, albeit fascinating positions, fairy tales continue to function as a mainstay of literature for children. As such the tales are both familiar and alien. As accessible to young and old, they offer us rich ways to reflect on the human condition, the place of individuals and groups within society, what we can hope for and what we might need to fight against.

This presentation will share several less known fairy tales and possibly surprising versions of familiar ones to invite participants to read them as problematizing society’s ways of defining and treating people across the spectrum of gender, socio-economic status, political power, degrees of able-ness, and race. We will use the stories as prompts for noting the ways in which society can systematically define and limit individuals based on characteristics that are favored or denigrated. The presence of animism, magic, non-human creatures, and the constant references to ethical and aesthetical values opens up new avenues for using philosophical tools to think about and examine the ideas underneath the storyline.

This presentation will consist of three parts:

  • A presentation of some fairy tales with suggestions towards their potential to provoke philosophical examination of social justice issues, including that of gender, socio-economic positions, and race.
  • A working session in which small groups of participants will read and discuss a fairy tale and develop some ideas for using the tale in a class room for philosophical dialogue about social issues and perhaps other themes as well.
  • An array of images will be shared as ways to enrich the discussion and exploration of the fairy tales.
  • A concluding section in which we all share our ideas with the goal to explore the strengths and weaknesses of using fairy tales for such themes. And the strategies to employ towards helping children and young people reflect seriously about these issues.

Adam Valenstein
Bio:

Adam is the Assistant Director for Accreditation and Program Services at the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest.  Prior to his current role, he worked for fifteen years as a classroom teacher at a number of schools in New York City and the greater Houston area.  Passionate about pre-college philosophy, Adam is the regional organizer for the Houston High School Ethics Bowl and co-director of Ethics & Society at Rice University.  He earned his B.A. (Philosophy), M.A. (Liberal Studies), and Ed.M. (Philosophy & Education) from Columbia University.

Ethics and Society: A summer enrichment program for economically disadvantaged high school students

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Brandon Williams & Peter Zuk

Too often university-level summer enrichment programs are cost-prohibitive for students from mid to low income families. This, no doubt, is symptomatic of larger structural issues within education, i.e., the significant inequality of educational opportunity. Given this social injustice, coupled with the lack of early exposure to philosophy for students of color, the Department of Philosophy at Rice University designed and delivered a transformative educational experience for fifteen rising juniors and seniors who qualify for free or reduced-price meals in Houston-area public and charter schools.

This presentation aims to inspire other philosophy departments to do the same; to correct an important disparity while extending the “pipeline” with an early, positive experience of the discipline. We would like to tell the story of the program as it unfolded. Topics will include the following:

  1. Fundraising: Here we will briefly provide details and strategy for contacting local and state grant-giving agencies. Additionally, navigating the University’s resources and adhering to its guidelines proved vital.

  2. Grant writing: Key to the grant writing process are measurable outcomes and a precise budget.

  3. Admission: Contacting school counselors as early as January is an important step. The counselors will need to identify qualified and deserving students and require ample time.

  4. Program Design/Schedule: Our three-week program was a balance of theory and practice. During the first week students attended classes in a traditional academic setting. Morning sessions were devoted to theory while afternoon sessions incorporated activities. The second week included three field trips to local organizations where students heard from professionals about the role of ethics in their working lives. We explored corporate and social responsibility, the ethics of refugees, and medical ethics. During the third and final week of the program, students prepared for an Academic Symposium; they collaborated in groups to write a real-world case study and act as “ethical consultants” to respond to the dilemma. All project stakeholders were invited to this celebration of learning.

  5. Curriculum and Instruction: Both instructors will share the syllabus and teaching strategies for working with the first cohort. They will share notes on what they found successful.

  6. Program Evaluation: We offered a two-tier evaluation: the first to measure instructor and program quality, and the second to measure transferability of skills and knowledge in their high school curricula.

For each of these steps, we will provide printed and digital programmatic and instructional materials (e.g., the application, program evaluation, syllabus, assignments/activities, and capstone project). By all measures, the program was a great success, and we would like to share its story with interested members of the larger philosophical community.


Sarah Vitale
Bio:

Dr. Sarah Vitale is an assistant professor of philosophy at Ball State University. She received her PhD in Philosophy from Villanova University in 2014. Vitale’s research focuses on Marx and post-Marxism, especially on the notions of production, creativity, and utopia and their deployment in Marx’s and post-Marxist texts, as well as contemporary feminism and gender studies. She is Co-Editor of the Radical Philosophy Review, and her publications include “Castoriadis, Marx, and the Critique of Productivism” (Telos 174). At Ball State, Vitale teaches classes on contemporary philosophy, especially 19th- and 20th-century continental philosophy and critical theory. Vitale is also co-advisor to the Ball State Philosophy Club, through which she began an outreach program to Indiana high schools with exiting philosophy clubs and courses. In addition, Vitale and her Ball State students recently started a philosophy club at Muncie Central High School.

Ball State Philosophy Club’s Outreach Program (Poster Presentation)

Abstract:

The poster will discuss a high school outreach initiative I began with Ball State Philosophy Club students in fall 2015. In fall 2015, I contacted almost 250 public and private high schools across Indiana to inquire into the state of philosophy education throughout the state. I received responses from over half the schools. Out of those who replied, only eight have philosophy classes in their curricula and seven have philosophy clubs. Of those without clubs and classes, some expressed an interest in starting a club and many more expressed an interest in some sort of partnership.

In the project’s first phase, I visited several schools that currently have clubs with a group of philosophy majors and BSU Philosophy Club members. Between December 2015 and April 2016, we visited five schools: Carmel High School, Fishers High School, North Central High School (Indianapolis), Twin Lakes High School (Monticello), Hamilton Southeastern High School (Fishers). We led discussions in the style of Ball State’s philosophy club with the high school students and BSU students on topics such as censorship and ethics, and then the BSU students fielded questions about their own experiences with philosophy and college in general. The high school students were very appreciative of the opportunity to engage in an extra-curricular conversation about philosophy with university students and faculty.

The initiative has been very popular with the philosophy majors and club members at Ball States. To date, eight Ball State students have participated, some of whom went on several site visits. Several other students have expressed interest in participating.

The Ball State students were very impressed with the level of curiosity and intellectual engagement displayed by the high school students. They have been eager to continue and develop the outreach program. I have been working with BSU students to develop the outreach program, and they have expressed a desire to visit schools without existing clubs or philosophy classes in the coming year to provide students with an initial encounter with philosophy.

The next phase of the program includes the institution of a philosophy club at the local high school in our community. Ball State students will be responsible for planning meeting topics and facilitating discussions, advertising the club, addressing students’ concerns, etc. In addition, they will research the Philosophy for Children movement, pre-college programs across the country, and the academic field of philosophy for children in order to develop and plan a pre-college philosophy conference to be held at Ball State in the spring of 2018 that will involve the Muncie Central club members and interested students from across the state.


Jesse Walsh
Bio:

In her last year of high school, Jesse took her first philosophy course (Bioethics) and, at the age of 17, felt her intellect authentically challenged for the first time. Her beliefs and analytic abilities were rocked to their foundation, and her life was changed forever. As an undergraduate student studying Philosophy at UMASS Boston, Jesse sought to pay her own high school experience forward by bringing philosophical discussion to underserved youth in Boston. She launched the Philosophy Outreach Program, a collaboration between UMASS and a group of teenagers at the local Boys & Girls Club (BGC) in Dorchester, MA. Philosophy undergrads visit the teens once a week at the BGC, bringing meals and engaging topics for discussion. After several years of success, this program expanded to an additional nearby BGC. Both programs continue to thrive today, 8 years later. After graduation, Jesse moved to New Haven, CT to teach middle schoolers as an AmeriCorps volunteer. There, she created a Philosophy Club for students in grades 5-8. This group also meets weekly and incorporates dynamic games with philosophical discussion; as she returned to Boston for grad school, Jesse left this program in the capable hands of the Philosophy Department at Quinnipiac University. Now finishing up a Masters degree at Boston University, Jesse is actively launching a new initiative, the Boston Philosophy Collaborative, which aims to leverage the abundance of resources from area colleges and universities to bring philosophical discourse into Boston public schools – particularly vocational/technical schools and “career academies.”

Vo Tech Schools through the lense of Systemtic Oppression

Abstract:

I spent a lot of time in 2016 thinking about social justice (as it pertains to race and income in particular), and also about teaching philosophy to children. I considered the largely invisible systemic and structural forces that thrust wealthy white children into critical thinking and problem solving exercises, while simultaneously pushing low-income communities of color as far out of the reach of the philosopher’s armchair as possible.

One thing that became clear to me (though of course I am not the first one to notice) was that we systematically consign low-income people of color into education tracks with fewer opportunities and lesser potential for intellectual and financial growth. A prominent way this plays out is through vocational/technical high schools, where you will find poor and/or non-white students aplenty who have been assigned (or have chosen) a “career” at the age of 14 and are educated in the skills they will need to be successful as future employees. What you will almost certainly not find is any type of philosophy course or consistent exercises in critical thinking/analysis.

In my own life, I am nearing the end of my MPH degree, and (though they still exist) I no longer am teaching philosophy in any of the previous clubs I have established over the past 8 years (2 in Boston and 1 in New Haven), so as I’ve started pondering where next to aim my love of P4C, the answer has been salient, surprising and somewhat terrifying: vo-tech high schools. The good news is that I have successfully gotten a Public Health Ethics Club started (it’s still in its infancy) at the Edward Kennedy Academy for Health Careers – the disclaimer that I have to make along with that is that EMKAHC is actually a charter school and not a vo-tech, so perhaps I am off to a somewhat dubious start. However, I do have plans to eventually grow into the one vo-tech high school in the city of Boston, Madison Park. EMKAHC was a somewhat pragmatic choice, as there is already a relationship between them and my university, which made it easier to get a foot in the door. It was also more in my own personal academic wheelhouse, being public health ethics, so I was able to begin immediately. Being most well-known for philosophy games with middle schoolers that involve candy, I’m afraid I will need a little more time to develop a curriculum that may appeal to high school students who are interested in things like automotive repair and cosmetology.

For the 2017 PLATO Conference, I would love to present a brief history of vo-tech schools as viewed through a lens of systematic oppression (á la Michelle Alexander) and the baby steps I am taking to address this issue (as well as my grander plans of ending the cycle of poverty through P4C). Finally, I’d like to offer recommendations and suggestions for others to take up the call in the places where they are.


Thomas Wartenberg
Bio:

Thomas Wartenberg is Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at Mount Holyoke College and President of PLATO. He has published numerous books and articles, including Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy Through Children’s Literature (Rowman and Littlefield, 2nd Edition 2014), and A Sneetch is A Sneetch and Other Philosophical Discoveries: Finding Wisdom in Children’s Literature (Wiley Blackwell, 2013). The program that he founded, Teaching Children Philosophy (teachingchildrenphilosophy.org), was awarded the 2011 APA/PDC Prize for Excellence and Innovations in Philosophy Programs. He received the 2013 Merritt Prize for his contributions to the philosophy of education. His course, Philosophy for Children, is the subject of a PBS documentary: http://wgby.org/bigideas. His other publications include Mel Bochner: Illustrating Philosophy (MHCMA, 2015), Existentialism: A Beginner’s Guide (Oneworld, 2008), Thinking on Screen: Film as Philosophy (Routledge, 2007) and Unlikely Couples: Movie Romance and Social Criticism (Westview, 1999). He lectures widely in the US, Australia, and Europe on topics in both philosophy for children and the philosophy of film.

Teaching Philosophy through Works of Art: Exploring Philosophy @ the Virtual Museum

Abstract:

Philosophical discussions with young people have traditionally employed a prompt to initiate the discussion. On the whole, these prompts have involved a narrative of some type, either a story or a philosophical puzzle in many cases. In some cases, for example, philosophical stories specifically designed for this purpose are employed; in others, pre-existing works of children’s literature are used.

Works of visual art have not been widely employed as a means for engaging young people philosophically. It’s not clear why. Perhaps it is because the philosophy for children movement has shared with Analytic philosophy a denigration of aesthetics. But whatever its cause, the result is that the potential of visual works for art for initiating philosophical discussions has not been widely acknowledged.

In recent years, this has begun to change as practitioners have realized that visual images have the ability to engage young people in a way that verbal narratives often do not. There have been a number of different attempts to use visual art as the basis for philosophy discussions such as the primary school Philosothon in Australia and Thinking Space’s programs in the UK.

This workshop will focus on materials I have developed for conducting philosophical discussions with secondary school students using works of art. These materials are gathered in my website called Philosophy@The Virtual Art Museum. After a short explanation of the origin of the project and nature of the website, I will conduct a community of inquiry discussion using the website.

The first part of my presentation will explain the origin of my project. I was asked by El Museo del Barrio to collaborate on a philosophy for children project. This led to me thinking about using works of art to initiate philosophy discussions. When this project stalled, I hit on the idea of creating a website to use for philosophy discussions using works of art.

Philosophy@The Virtual Art Museum would not have been possible even a few years ago because the images used in the website are all of famous works of art in the collections of important museums like The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Now, however, museums have placed their entire collection of images online, allowing the website to use those images (with proper attribution, of course.) Thus, Philosophy@The Virtual Art Museum can use famous works of art as prompts for philosophy discussions. It thus allows students without easy access to such works to spend time carefully examining them as they think about issues in philosophy related to the works of art.

The second part of my presentation will be a brief introduction to the website. At the moment (I am planning on expanding the website in the near future to include Sculpture and Photography), there are five genres of art that are featured on the website: Portraits, Landscapes, Expressionism, Abstract Art, and Conceptual Art. There are images of three works of art featured under each category. For each of those works, there are three questions posed that ask viewers to observe the works and discuss their features. The idea is that the first step for a successful discussion is the careful observation of the works. Once viewers have looked at and discussed the three works, they are asked a series of philosophical questions that are related to the works they have seen. These questions are not limited, as might be expected, to the philosophy of art, but range over different areas of philosophy. For example, the questions posed in the Expressionist category focus on the nature of the emotions and how people think about them. This issue naturally arises from paying attention to the nature of these works of art, for they all involve depictions of emotional states. So thinking about what these works of art portray leads to the more philosophical questions about the emotions in an organic manner.

The third and longest part of session will use the website to generate a philosophy discussion based on a category of artwork. This will involve having the attendees of the session engage in a community of inquiry style discussion of a particular genre of art as featured on the website. Attendees will get to vote on which genre to discuss and I will facilitate the discussion of the genre they choose.

One difference between the website and the traditional idea of a community of inquiry discussion is the website itself includes questions, some based on the works included on the site while others are genuinely philosophical. The reason for this is so even people less familiar with the philosophy of inquiry methodology will be able to use the website. It does include some brief instructions about how to conduct a discussion. But in order to help facilitators introduce philosophical content into the discussion, specific questions have been included.

After the discussion, there will be an open discussion in which attendees will address any aspect of the session they would like: what they think of the website as a whole; whether the inclusions of specific questions is a problem; whether the categories included are useful ones; what additional units might be useful, such as Street Art or Sculpture or Photography. In fact, I would like to distribute a questionnaire for the participants asking for specific feedback on the site. Since the website has not yet had widespread use and is still in the process of further development, I will greatly benefit from such feedback.


Jonathan Weil
Bio:

Jonathan Weil earned a B.A. in philosophy and an M.A in philosophy of science from Stanford University, as well as a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Southern California. His doctoral dissertation was on the metaphysics of properties, but he is interested in a wide variety of philosophical topics and has taught courses on philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, ethics and religion, philosophical conceptions of love, political philosophy, and the philosophy of neuroscience. He is currently in his sixth year of teaching at Stanford Online High School, where he is also the division head of the Philosophy Core.

Applying Theory to Practice at Stanford Online High School

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Christina Drogalis & Lisa Hicks

At the Stanford University Online High School, our students take a sequence of interdisciplinary classes that are aimed at the development of philosophical skills. Two of our upper division courses, Democracy, Freedom, and the Rule of Law (DFRL) and Critical Reading and Argumentation (CRA), are designed to teach our students how to apply philosophical theory to practical cases. We’d like to propose a workshop in which we discuss a sample apply-theory-to-practice assignment from each class. We envision the workshop as a chance to uncover new and more effective ways of achieving the course goal.

In DFRL, one of the overarching objectives is to promote good citizenship through the development of philosophical skills. One of our general strategies to attain this goal is to introduce the students to some philosophical theory or methodology and then apply it to a political artifact, such as a political speech or court document. Through discussion, written assignments, and evaluation of this intersection of theory and application, we aim to inculcate traits of good citizenship by developing skills and knowledge relevant to participation in political discourse, evaluation of proposed policies and legislation, and political action.

One example of our use of this strategy is an assignment in which we introduce students to the method of briefing a Supreme Court case as applied to the foundational Marbury v. Madison. A pre-recorded lecture shows students the six general steps of case briefing and models the method using an abridged version of the famous case. Students are thus taught the general skill of interpreting legal briefs and are introduced to the argument supporting judicial review in concert. In the following class, we have students perform their own briefing of another case, Wisconsin v. Yoder. In class discussion, we have students work in small groups to compare their briefings, and reconvene to discuss both the briefings and the arguments in the case pitting religious freedom against the need for the state to have educated and politically competent citizens. We then assign one of the term’s major papers, which prompts the students to use previous material focused on the relationship between democracy, equality and popular sovereignty (e.g., Tocqueville, King, Jefferson) to adjudicate between the two sides in the Yoder case.

In CRA, one of our primary goals is to help students develop the resources of critical reading and reasoning, through a careful analysis of exemplary pieces of philosophical argumentation and philosophical literature. While emphasizing the cultivation of tools and strategies for careful philosophical analysis in reading and writing, course materials also encourage reflection on some of the fundamental characteristics and assumptions of ethics, religion, science, and philosophy itself in relation to both longstanding and contemporary issues and debate about them.

The moral experiment project asks students to critically consider one of three major moral frameworks (among virtue ethics, utilitarianism, and deontology) by living according to the chosen ethical system and reflecting on this experience. The first stage involves a prospectus which has two parts: (1) A careful exposition of the main tenets of the ethical theory, with a particular focus on aspects of the theory that are relevant to how it would be lived in practice; (2) a brief account of concerns facing the chosen theory, including concerns with the practical implications/implementation of the theory. The second stage comprises living the ethics as closely as possible for two days, while keeping a journal documenting the experience. Students submit the journal as an appendix to the paper. For the third stage, students write an essay that contains a critical summary of the chosen moral framework, a critical reflection upon its applicability in light of their experiences with it, and some conclusions about what they have learned about its strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. This leads to a final fourth stage, involving a revision of the essay, based on peer and instructor feedback.

After presenting these sample assignments, we plan to guide an exercise and discussion. First, we will ask participants in the workshop to discuss how they might construct assignments and readings to achieve these goals or how they’ve set up assignments to achieve similar objectives in other classes. Then, we will open the discussion to a broader conversation about the difficulties and concerns of teaching students to apply philosophical theory to practical cases. We’re interested in what techniques others use, what others find valuable and challenging about helping students to develop this skill, and how these approaches can be tailored to different types of schools and students.


Brandon Williams
Bio:

Brandon is a Ph.D. candidate in the Philosophy department at Rice University. While his research focus falls primarily in the area of Metaethics, he spends considerable time thinking about issues of more general importance. Brandon is a staunch advocate of bringing philosophy to people outside of academia.

A Summer Enrichment Program for Economically Disadvantaged High School Students

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Adam Valenstein & Peter Zuk

Too often university-level summer enrichment programs are cost-prohibitive for students from mid to low income families. This, no doubt, is symptomatic of larger structural issues within education, i.e., the significant inequality of educational opportunity. Given this social injustice, coupled with the lack of early exposure to philosophy for students of color, the Department of Philosophy at Rice University designed and delivered a transformative educational experience for fifteen rising juniors and seniors who qualify for free or reduced-price meals in Houston-area public and charter schools.

This presentation aims to inspire other philosophy departments to do the same; to correct an important disparity while extending the “pipeline” with an early, positive experience of the discipline. We would like to tell the story of the program as it unfolded. Topics will include the following:

  1. Fundraising: Here we will briefly provide details and strategy for contacting local and state grant-giving agencies. Additionally, navigating the University’s resources and adhering to its guidelines proved vital.

  2. Grant writing: Key to the grant writing process are measurable outcomes and a precise budget.

  3. Admission: Contacting school counselors as early as January is an important step. The counselors will need to identify qualified and deserving students and require ample time.

  4. Program Design/Schedule: Our three-week program was a balance of theory and practice. During the first week students attended classes in a traditional academic setting. Morning sessions were devoted to theory while afternoon sessions incorporated activities. The second week included three field trips to local organizations where students heard from professionals about the role of ethics in their working lives. We explored corporate and social responsibility, the ethics of refugees, and medical ethics. During the third and final week of the program, students prepared for an Academic Symposium; they collaborated in groups to write a real-world case study and act as “ethical consultants” to respond to the dilemma. All project stakeholders were invited to this celebration of learning.

  5. Curriculum and Instruction: Both instructors will share the syllabus and teaching strategies for working with the first cohort. They will share notes on what they found successful.

  6. Program Evaluation: We offered a two-tier evaluation: the first to measure instructor and program quality, and the second to measure transferability of skills and knowledge in their high school curricula.

For each of these steps, we will provide printed and digital programmatic and instructional materials (e.g., the application, program evaluation, syllabus, assignments/activities, and capstone project). By all measures, the program was a great success, and we would like to share its story with interested members of the larger philosophical community.


Jonathan Wurtz
Bio:

Jonathan Wurtz is currently a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy and a coordinator with the precollege philosophy program, Philosophical Horizons, at the University of Memphis. He currently holds a BA in philosophy from Florida Gulf Coast University and an MA in philosophy from the University of Memphis. His interests rest at the intersection of 20 th century French philosophy, especially the work of Michelle Foucault, socio-political philosophy, epistemology, and philosophy of education. His current research focuses on trying to illuminate the ways in which notions of childhood are strategically used as mechanisms of powers in the production of knowledge.

What Do We Mean by “Pre-College Philosophy”: Avoiding Conservatism in the Pre-College Classroom

Abstract:

Co-presenting with John Torrey

Pre-college philosophy has gained world-wide popularity over the last three decades and with it a growing literature on its benefits and goals has emerged. Generally speaking, proponents of the movement have argued in favor of it on three fronts: its emphasis on critical thinking (Winstanley 2008), moral character development (Kunzman 2006), and autonomy of thought (Lipman 2007 and Murris 2008). These arguments are meant to reflect the academic and intellectual benefits of practicing philosophy at the pre-college level and can also be used to highlight some of the socio-political advantages of pre-college philosophy in democratic societies (Lipman 1997, Brighouse 2008, Hess 2009). All in all, if we follow the argumentative line presented to us, pre-college philosophy is understood as a good (maybe even radical) practice valuable for both the community and its students.

While these arguments do hold merit and attention, they also reflect a lack of consideration for the diverse student body they can potentially benefit. While some of the literature does focus on this, diversity is usually portrayed as an outcome or symptom of pre-college philosophy (Weinberg 2006 and Leiter 2015) rather than as a condition for it. This is problematic for practitioners who teach philosophy to under-privileged and under-represented student populations, as ignoring the necessity of engaging these populations misses the value of doing pre-college philosophy with a goal of diversifying practitioners of philosophy.

There are additional values to purposefully doing philosophy with underprivileged and under-represented groups. This is its ability to give these specific groups critical tools to engage the world they live in, one that is often markedly different from the world that regularly represented groups in philosophy experience. Additionally, this exposure to philosophy in a way that is relevant to their experience prior to the college arena produces increased chances for philosophy to be adopted by a more diverse population inside and outside professional philosophy.

The lack of diversity in professional philosophy—both conceptually and physically speaking—entails a disinterest on the part of philosophers regarding how current professional practices and norms can be alienating (Dotson 2012). Give this background, many of the arguments about the value of pre-college philosophy ignore what happens when value is attached to the possibility of diversifying the discipline. For those who argue that diversity is a necessary step for growing the discipline of philosophy, pre-college philosophy could be seen as a way to help grow future generations of diverse practitioners of philosophy.

The lack of consideration for elements of diversity in pre-college classrooms, we argue, is reflective of the broader lack of diversity in professional philosophy. In this presentation, we aim to illuminate the shortcomings and potential harm of using the arguments mentioned above as a basis for justifying the use of philosophical dialogue in pre-college classrooms—especially those with diverse student bodies.


Peter Zuk
Bio:

Peter is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at Rice University. His primary research interests are ethics, history of philosophy, and the philosophy of mind. He believes strongly in the importance of public philosophy and pre-college philosophical education.

A Summer Enrichment Program for Economically Disadvantaged High School Students

Abstract:

Co-presenting with Adam Valenstein & Brandon Williams

Too often university-level summer enrichment programs are cost-prohibitive for students from mid to low income families. This, no doubt, is symptomatic of larger structural issues within education, i.e., the significant inequality of educational opportunity. Given this social injustice, coupled with the lack of early exposure to philosophy for students of color, the Department of Philosophy at Rice University designed and delivered a transformative educational experience for fifteen rising juniors and seniors who qualify for free or reduced-price meals in Houston-area public and charter schools.

This presentation aims to inspire other philosophy departments to do the same; to correct an important disparity while extending the “pipeline” with an early, positive experience of the discipline. We would like to tell the story of the program as it unfolded. Topics will include the following:

  1. Fundraising: Here we will briefly provide details and strategy for contacting local and state grant-giving agencies. Additionally, navigating the University’s resources and adhering to its guidelines proved vital.

  2. Grant writing: Key to the grant writing process are measurable outcomes and a precise budget.

  3. Admission: Contacting school counselors as early as January is an important step. The counselors will need to identify qualified and deserving students and require ample time.

  4. Program Design/Schedule: Our three-week program was a balance of theory and practice. During the first week students attended classes in a traditional academic setting. Morning sessions were devoted to theory while afternoon sessions incorporated activities. The second week included three field trips to local organizations where students heard from professionals about the role of ethics in their working lives. We explored corporate and social responsibility, the ethics of refugees, and medical ethics. During the third and final week of the program, students prepared for an Academic Symposium; they collaborated in groups to write a real-world case study and act as “ethical consultants” to respond to the dilemma. All project stakeholders were invited to this celebration of learning.

  5. Curriculum and Instruction: Both instructors will share the syllabus and teaching strategies for working with the first cohort. They will share notes on what they found successful.

  6. Program Evaluation: We offered a two-tier evaluation: the first to measure instructor and program quality, and the second to measure transferability of skills and knowledge in their high school curricula.

For each of these steps, we will provide printed and digital programmatic and instructional materials (e.g., the application, program evaluation, syllabus, assignments/activities, and capstone project). By all measures, the program was a great success, and we would like to share its story with interested members of the larger philosophical community.