Leeds Philosophy Exchange

Leeds Philosophy Exchange: Leeds Philosophy students at Shire Oak Primary

This project was conceived of as an Agora – a market place of ideas, although often it feels move like a laboratory. Leeds Philosophy Exchange is an on-going project that brings philosophy students, primary school pupils, and teachers together to learn from each other. It recognises that while philosophers have their expertise, they often know little about education and the lives and learning of local children. It also recognises that teachers who are experts in the classroom, are often philosophical novices. Finally it recognises that children can benefit from the wisdom and experience of teachers and philosophers. And of course, adults can benefit enormously from philosophising with children.

Thinking Space has a history of partnership working and has worked in this collaborative way, with staff and pupils at Shire Oak for almost two years. But in September 2012 we made things a little more exciting. In partnership with The University of Leeds, Grace has written and lectured on a course for second year undergraduate philosophers, interested in going into schools. In January 2013, 15 trained philosophers were partnered with 4-trained teacher at Shire Oak. Each taking half a class at a time, they began to facilitate weekly philosophy sessions that have been some of the most interesting I’ve seen in years.

The on-going discussions we have had, amount to a fascinating analysis of what it is we think we’re doing as academic philosophers and as professional teachers. Meanwhile the children are developing the discipline, vocabulary, patience, curiosity, and sense of wonder, that will stand them in good stead when …. WE DO IT ALL AGAIN NEXT YEAR!

Except that for next year’s students, the project will be part of their degree at Leeds, and the training and reflective discussions we have had this year, will form the basis of their assessed essays on the philosophy, pedagogy, and practice of philosophising with children. If this year is anything to go by, they won’t struggle for material.

Thinking Space have been talking to several other universities about making a similar offer to their students, Any philosophy departments interested in talking about this further, or collaborating with Leeds should feel free to get in touch on our contact page.

This post is by Grace

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