why am i here? the challenges of exploring children's existential questions in the community of inquiry





existential questions, taboo topics, community of inquiry, children on the meaning of life, children on death.


Children ask existential questions, that is, questions about death, the meaning of existence, free will, God, the origin of everything, and kindred questions. P4/wC has the aspiration to give to children the occasion to discover and explore their questions in a safe environment, the community of inquiry. Thus, existential questioning should be possible in a community of inquiry. However, it is unclear whether the pedagogy of the community of inquiry can accommodate existential questioning. The chief trouble is that existential questioning might be a cause of suffering: children might be unable to contain the emotional intensity that is experienced when we inquire about topics like death and the meaning of existence. In a community of inquiry, the emphasis over the community and the autonomy that children experience in choosing the questions for their inquiry might create occasions of suffering: some children might not be prepared to discuss existential issues or might be troubled by the candidate answers they explore and eventually end up to endorse. In this paper I highlight some of the main challenges that we need to face if we want to make room for existential questioning in the community of inquiry.

Author Biography

luca zanetti, university of bologna, italy

In 2018 I finalized my PhD in philosophy at the University of Bologna with a Dissertation entitled 'Certainty and Normativity from a Phenomenological Point of View'. In 2018-2020 I have been a member and post-doc in a two-year research project funded by the University of Bologna entitled FarFilò on the plurality of philosophical practices with children. I am trained as a P4C facilitator (University of Padua and CIREP, Italy) and I am the president of Filò, an Italian association devoted to the promotion of philosophical dialogue in educational and cultural contexts. Currently I am working as a  facilitator of philosophical inquiry in a variety of contexts (school, university, cultural events, etc) and I am pursuing my research in epistemology and philosophy for/with children.


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How to Cite

zanetti, luca. (2020). why am i here? the challenges of exploring children’s existential questions in the community of inquiry. Childhood & Philosophy, 16(36), 01–26. https://doi.org/10.12957/childphilo.2020.47050



philosophy and childhood: theory and practice: presentation

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