thinking as two - philosophy, critical thinking, and community of inquiry


  • daniel fisherman Montclair State University


Philosophy for Children, Critical Thinking, Community of Inquiry, Philosophy


Supporters of the philosophy for children movement often claim that philosophy is the ideal subject to teach children if we seek to improve their critical thinking. Claiming that only philosophy encompasses the whole of the critical thinking enterprise, and that it alone teaches meta-cognition, these proponents argue for its inclusion in both elementary and secondary school curricula. Yet, if we accept a mainstream description of critical thinking as an activity demanding both aptitude and disposition, the discipline of philosophy, independent of any particular pedagogy, does not offer the unique ability to improve either aspect of the critical thinker. Indeed, matched with the "wrong" pedagogy, the teaching of philosophy does nothing to encourage the disposition to think critically. The pedagogy of Community of Inquiry, however, does encourage such a disposition, even independent of its use in teaching philosophy. As a public model of the process of critical thinking, this pedagogy acts as the "training wheels" of the critical thinker, allowing the individual to both observe and participate in the process. The expectation of the educator is that exposure to the model will, in time, result in its internalization. While philosophy itself may not improve either critical aptitude or disposition, the nature of the discipline does uniquely enable efficient, productive, and extended practice of Community of Inquiry in an educational context. And it is this indirect link between philosophy and critical thinking, a link mediated by the pedagogy of Community of Inquiry, that should be cited by proponents of philosophy for children.

Author Biography

daniel fisherman, Montclair State University

Daniel Fisherman is currently a doctoral student in the Philosophy and Pedagogy program at Montclair State University. He holds an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania (1990).




How to Cite

fisherman, daniel. (2011). thinking as two - philosophy, critical thinking, and community of inquiry. Childhood & Philosophy, 6(12), pp.211–227. Retrieved from




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