Who is the Teacher?

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Area: History and Social Studies, Other Areas
Grade Level: Middle School, Primary/Elementary School
Topics: children, Epistemic justice, philosophical skills, Questions
Estimated Time Necessary: 30 minutes

Lesson Plan

Objectives:
To help students new to a community of philosophical inquiry think about teaching, expertise, and who can be a teacher.
This activity is helpful to do in the early months of working with a new community of philosophical inquiry. It is designed to help students think about both what it means to be a teacher and to come to see themselves as people with expertise who teach. This highlights one of the most important aspects of doing philosophy for children, namely that all of us learn from thinking with one another—including adults.

Who is the Teacher? 

Topics: Questions, children, philosophical skills, epistemic justice

Grade Level: Elementary, Middle School

Time: 30 Minutes

Objectives: This activity is helpful to do in the early months of working with a new community of philosophical inquiry. It is designed to help students think about both what it means to be a teacher and to come to see themselves as people with expertise who teach. This highlights one of the most important aspects of doing philosophy for children, namely that all of us learn from thinking with one another—including adults.

Preparation:

Make a slide deck to share with students either using the classroom projector or with a shared screen function in the online setting.  In the deck you’ll want to include:

  • First, a slide entitled “Who is the teacher?” with two pictures—one an adult who is teaching and one a young person who is teaching.
  • Second, make a slide entitled “Which could be students?”. This slide should include several pictures ranging from adults in different professions to animals to inanimate objects.
  • Third, have a slide with the questions “Can children teach adults? Can adults be students?”
  • Finally, make a slide entitled “What are some things you have taught?”. If you are online, you can fill that slide in with them in real time. If you are in-person you can make the list on the whiteboard or in another central location visible to all students.

Photos of examples of each slide are included below.

Activity:

With your students, go through each slide one by one, pausing to talk and reflect about each.

For the first slide, questions will arise regarding why many people assume the adult is the teacher, whether there is a difference between being a teacher and teaching something, and whether children can be teachers.

For the second slide, work through each picture one by one. Questions that come up with depend on the images used, but for the image below questions included: Can a professional be a student? Can dogs be students? Why can’t a birthday cake be a student? Is there a difference between a student and someone who is simply learning something?

For the third slide, facilitate a discussion about whether children can teach adults and whether adults can be students. What things might an adult need to learn? What would the students like to teach adults if they were given a chance?

Finally, ask the students to think about the things they have taught others. Make a list. If there is time, you might ask: Did you think of yourself as a teacher before this discussion? Do you think of yourself as one now?

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