This has been an exciting summer. In August I flew to Cape Town to give a paper and take part in an international conference on philosophy with children. I was joined by philosophers and educators from across South Africa and the rest of the world – some were familiar faces like Lizzy Lewis from Sapere, Pete Worley from the Philosophy Foundation , Karin Murris from Cape Town University and Darren Chetty from IOE and Power to the Pupils. Many more were unfamiliar faces giving accounts of the educational challenges faced by South African children and teachers, speaking of the African ethic of Ubuntu and the impact of philosophy in African schools, colleges and communities.
The programme for this conference and all the papers given are available here.
This was the International Council on Philosophical Inquiry with Children’s (ICPIC) sixteenth conference and the first in South Africa. It was also my first trip and it was one of the most interesting places I’ve ever visited; beautiful and sobering in equal measure; somewhere you can spend the morning on Robben Island where only a few decades ago Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner for opposing apartheid; then, in the afternoon, climb Table Mountain and look down on the beautiful city from above the clouds.
My paper, in case you’re interested, looks at the role of narrative in ethical enquiry with children. In it, I present a view of the nature of narrative and ethics, and the relationship between the two. Narrative, I argue, is at the heart of ethical life and learning. We live and learn by virtue of the stories we tell and the stories that are told to us. This is possible not only because these stories present us with vivid ethical contexts, but also because successful engagement with and enjoyment of these narratives requires the exercise of capacities that also help us lead good lives.