Reflections After the First Year of PLATO’s Merger
We’ve reached the end of the first year of our expanded organization (here is a history), a year that has been exciting and hectic and demanding. I have paused this past couple of weeks to spend time thinking about the year’s achievements and challenges, and what lies ahead.
Over the 25 years of its existence, the Center for Philosophy for Children at the University of Washington developed a vibrant philosophical community around the Pacific Northwest and beyond, reaching thousands of students, educators, and families. Its legacy is now part of PLATO. I said at the PLATO Conference in June that in many ways PLATO is now living in three time zones at once – carrying the quarter-century history of the Center’s existence, the ongoing national work in which PLATO has been engaged for 10 years, and a completely new organization that has just begun.
It’s been a joy to bring together many people who have been involved in one or both organizations over the years to form something new, to take what we have achieved and expand it by listening to the voices of our community. We are proud to be enlarging every day the number of people who have access to PLATO’s resources and programs. This year, in addition to implementing many new internal administrative and financial policies, PLATO:
- Led regular philosophy sessions in more than 45 Seattle public school classrooms expanded our philosophers-in-residence program to high schools in Seattle, Boston, and Philadelphia
- Developed new programs for high school, middle school, and elementary school students
- Hosted several in-person events, including our first in-person conference since 2019, the 2022 Washington State High School Ethics Bowl, and an intergenerational ethics program for University of Washington retirees and local high school students
- Ran many online programs for educators, including our first intensive online spring seminar, a monthly Professional Learning Community (PLC), a summer seminar, 3 workshops, 6 webinars, and 4 virtual roundtables on a wide range of philosophical and pedagogical topics
- Redesigned our website, utilized by over 100,000 people in 2022
- Awarded grants to 12 organizations around the US for programs that served over 400 educators and students, and funded 3 Graduate Philosophy for Children Fellowships at the University of Washington
We redefined our mission and vision this year.
Our mission: PLATO nurtures young people’s curiosity, critical thinking, and desire to explore big questions, through philosophy and ethics programs for students, educators, and families.
Our vision: PLATO envisions a future in which all young people confidently ask questions, express well-reasoned views, and welcome the perspectives of others.
What are the most powerful avenues for achieving our mission and vision?
One of the questions I have been asking myself over the past couple of weeks involves impact – how to evaluate the work we are doing. The numbers of people we reach? The stories we hear from our community about the effects of PLATO’s programs? Are all our programs important? How do we reach more people without compromising or watering down the depth and quality of what we do?
I would love to hear your thoughts about all of this. Please write to me at email@example.com. Wishing you all a healthy, happy, and peaceful 2023.