place-based philosophical education: reconstructing ‘place’, reconstructing ethics


  • simone thornton The University of Queensland, Australia
  • mary graham The University of Queensland, Australia
  • gilbert burgh The University of Queensland, Australia



Indigenous philosophy, philosophy, environmental philosophy, ecofeminism, decolonisation, education, placed-based education, ethics, philosophy with children, critical Indigenous pedagogy, neutrality, place


Education as identity formation in Western-style liberal-democracies relies, in part, on neutrality as a justification for the reproduction of collective individual identity, including societal, cultural, institutional and political identities, many aspects of which are problematic in terms of the reproduction of environmentally harmful attitudes, beliefs and actions. Taking a position on an issue necessitates letting go of certain forms of neutrality, as does effectively teaching environmental education. We contend that to claim a stance of neutrality is to claim a position beyond criticism. In the classroom this can also be an epistemically damaging position to hold. To further explore the problem of neutrality in the classroom, and to offer a potential solution, we will look to the philosophical community of inquiry pedagogy, and advocate for the addition of place-based education; a form of experiential education that promotes learning in local communities in which the school is situated, each with its own history, culture, economy and environment. However, how we understand ‘place’ is fundamental to understanding the potential of place-based education in giving students a ‘sense of place’—how they perceive a place, which includes place attachment and place meaning. To this end, we look to Indigenous understandings of Place and social reconstruction learning to inform place-based pedagogies. Doing so, we hold, opens a pathway to ethical education.

Author Biographies

simone thornton, The University of Queensland, Australia

Simone Thornton teaches Philosophy in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at The University of Queensland. Her teaching areas include Environmental Philosophy, Philosophy and Education, and Introduction to Ethics. She has published on the history and development of philosophy in schools in Australia; Camus, philosophical suicide, pragmatist epistemology and the community of inquiry; and the role of genuine doubt in collaborative inquiry-based philosophy. Her primary research focus is the development of ecological rationality through education. She is co-editor (with Gilbert Burgh) of Philosophical Inquiry with Children: The Development of an Inquiring Society in Australia. Her book, Education in a time of environmental crisis: A philosophy of eco-rational education, will be available in 2021. 

mary graham, The University of Queensland, Australia

Mary Graham is a Kombumerri person through her father’s heritage and affiliated with Wakka Wakka through her mother’s people. Mary has worked across several government agencies, community organisations and universities, including the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action as a Native Title Researcher and as a Regional Counsellor for the former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. She has taught Aboriginal history, politics and comparative philosophy at The University of Queensland, and lectured nationally on these subjects, as well as developed and implemented ‘Aboriginal Perspective’, ‘Aboriginal Approaches to Knowledge’ and at the postgraduate level ‘Aboriginal Politics’ into university curricula.

gilbert burgh, The University of Queensland, Australia

Gilbert Burgh is Associate Professor in Philosophy in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, The University of Queensland. He has published widely on democratic education, dialogic pedagogy and the development of community of inquiry in educational discourse, and the role of genuine doubt in classroom inquiry. He has co-authored three books with Mark Freakley: Values Education in Schools (2008) (with Lyne Tilt MacSporran), Ethics and the Community of Inquiry (2006) (with Terri Field) and Engaging with Ethics (2000), and is co-editor (with Simone Thornton) of Philosophical Inquiry with Children: The Development of an Inquiring Society in Australia (2019). His book, Teaching democracy in an age of uncertainty: Pedagogy of deliberation, co-authored with Simone Thornton, will be available in 2021. 


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How to Cite

thornton, simone, graham, mary, & burgh, gilbert. (2021). place-based philosophical education: reconstructing ‘place’, reconstructing ethics. Childhood & Philosophy, 17, 01–29.



ethical implications of practicing philosophy with children and adults: irony, misogyny and narcissism on debate