voting on the questions as a pedagogical practice in a community of philosophical enquiry
Keywords:community of philosophical enquiry, voting, critical posthumanism, questions, early childhood education.
This article considers two of the methodological steps in a Community of Philosophical Enquiry: developing the questions and voting on the questions. Both of these practices are enacted by the 8-9 year old children who are the participants in a philosophical enquiry, which I facilitated at a government primary school in South Africa. Matthews (1994) reminds us that children as philosophical thinkers/doers have been left out of the dominant narratives about children and childhood. A question that guides this research is where is the place for philosophical questions (developed by children) and the kind of philosophical thinking/drawing/creating/being for child (and adults) in schools? How do we make space for such questioning–so that the richness of these pedagogical encounters can really matter and make a difference to the teaching and learning taking place? Gandorfer in an interview with Barad (2021), suggests that critical thought “is to encounter what is unrecognizable and imperceptible, yet sensible and constructive of sense without separating it from the physical world” (p. 20). I would agree and apply this to the critical thoughts of child. This thinking is not located in the child, in their mind and does not emerge only through the thoughts, child verbalises. A critical posthumanism theory/practice analysis ensures that as researcher, I do not stand outside of the research peering in at a distance. Similarly the children, the questions, the voting and the enquiries are not separate from the world, they are all already entangled with the world. When the children are voting on the questions, this performs as a pedagogy of interruption (Michaud, 2020). As the facilitator, I do not know which question will receive the largest number of votes for the philosophical enquiry. This makes possible an emergent curriculum in its be(com)ing. Toby Rollo’s (2016) formulations about child as political agent and not just moral agent and the implications for more democratic and just schooling are theorised in this paper through the act of the children voting on the questions. I argue that children are not just excluded from participating in decisions about what and even how they are learning at school but from most pedagogical practices in classrooms and schools. I show how the children creating the questions and voting on the questions can be democratic practices with political and moral implications in a community of philosophical enquiry.
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