philosophy for democracy

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The concept of philosophy with children builds on the work of the American philosopher Matthew Lipman. Philosophy with children is seen as contributing to critical and creative thinking and in this way to democratic society, conceptualized in the Dewey tradition. Philosophy helps people to live together, compare and communicate ideas and values with each other in order to promote democratic awareness and mutual growth. Democracy includes recognition of reciprocal interests of individuals and groups. For this reason democracy cannot be seen as permanently given or a situation which we, the adults of today, can offer to children, the adults of tomorrow. Democracy is something we continuously have to work on by intensive interaction between individuals and groups in society. A democratic society must put effort in educating children to become rational and reasonable individuals with developed thinking capacities and the ability to coordinate and cooperate. The most important aim of philosophy with children is to help them to develop responsive and creative ways of thinking by converting the classroom into a community of dialogue and inquiry.

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philosophy for democracy is a research project in two phases:
1. democracy in dialogue
2. the phd research philosophy for democracy;
thinking, dialogue and diversity in primary education

democracy in dialogue
This research project analyses in 25 classes in different schools learning processes in and results of lessons that are organized by the Centre of Philosophy for Children in the project Democracy in Dialogue. This project offers a structured approach and a two year series of lessons, in order to help primary schools to give philosophy with children a fixed place in the school curriculum as a contribution to active citizenship education.
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philosophy for democracy
Philosophy for Democracy is a research project which aims to examine whether, in what way and to what extent Philosophy with Children contributes to the development of democratic skills and attitudes. The research design is based on the curriculum model as conceptualized by Goodlad and others who divide the curriculum into six levels. We used Goodlad’s model to research the development and implementation of a programme for Philosophy with Children in primary schools. The first two levels, the ideal and the formal curriculum, consist of a study of theories about Philosophy with Children and of the curriculum and learning material that has been developed. The third level, the interpreted curriculum, concerns the teachers and their interpretations of Philosophy with Children. The operational curriculum is the fourth level: what happens in practice when teachers work with the programme in their practice and children are philosophising? What are children doing in the philosophy sessions? The last two levels, the experienced and the effected curriculum, concern the way children perceive these sessions, and what learning processes can be identified to contribute to democratic development.

Philosophy for Democracy has been carried out in four Dutch primary schools where philosophising is a regular practice. 300 children participated in the study. Through interviews, observations, audio-registrations, analyses of philosophical inquiries, and questionnaires, we have collected the required data.
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