Exciting news! But first the back story:
In 2007 the University of Leeds funded Thinking Space’s fledgling project; The Big Think, a pilot project supported by the then-Head of Department Dr Jim Parry and led by Grace, then a Tutor in Philosophy at Leeds. The project supported eight philosophy and HPS students into work at a local secondary school where they designed and delivered a programme of philosophical enquiries for 20 Year Eight pupils. The project culminated in a sharing event where parents, teachers, lecturers and students were invited to the University of Leeds to watch a live demonstration of philosophy with children and celebrate the achievements of the pupils and the students taking part.
Building on the success of this project Thinking Space are collaborating with Senior Lecturers in philosophy Aaron Meskin and Helen Steward on a more ambitions project that has just received funding. (That’s the good news!)
Leeds Philosophy Exchange will offer undergraduate philosophers in their second year of study, the opportunity to train to facilitate philosophical enquiry with children from local primary schools. The 10 credit module will take place over three terms to give students the opportunity to gradually deepen their understanding of the theory, practicalities and challenges of philosophising with children and to develop and refine their practice. The module will culminate with an assessed essay that draws on both their reflections on the philosophical and pedagogical issues raised by their experiences and the wealth of academic writing on the subject of philosophy with children and in communities
The project will draw on departmental expertise gained since the Proctorial System was designed and implemented by George MacDonald Ross in 1991. A proctorial is an hour-long meeting around set readings supervised by a more experienced peer: a third year undergraduate who acts as a proctor. For the Proctors, this work is 10 credit module. It is envisaged that this project will prepare students to act as more effective proctors.
This project is motivated by the importance of boosting student employability and entrepreneurialism, widening participation, knowledge transfer and partnership with local communities. It is hoped that this module will offer Leeds students the opportunity to develop skills and attributes that will support them into work when they graduate whilst benefiting children from the local area and raising the profile of the department. Depending on the success of this year, the project could be extended to include more students in later years.
Alongside these practical benefits involvement, in this project has clear pedagogic aims. Both the pilot ‘Big Think’ project and the long running proctorial system have demonstrated that facilitating philosophical enquiry supports students intellectual development as practicing philosophers capable of thinking clearly and carefully about their discipline and communicating their ideas to the wider public.
This post is by Grace