challenging adult-centrism: speaking speech and the possibility of intergenerational dialogue
Keywords:adult-centrism, p4wc, community of philosophical inquiry, temporality, Merleau-Ponty, speaking speech, expressivity
This paper reflects on the role of philosophy in the school environment, paying special attention to the promise of intergenerational dialogue carried forward by philosophy programmes associated with Lipman’s Philosophy for Children (P4C) curriculum and its current transformation into Philosophy with Children (PwC). There are two basic ideas that constitute the guiding thread of my reflections. Firstly, that philosophical interventions of that kind challenge adult-centric views of education and philosophy. Secondly, that such initiatives carry with them the promise of acknowledging children as equal participants in the process of philosophical questioning and meaning creation. In the first part of the paper, I argue for the importance of understanding the act of philosophizing with children as a disruption of adult-centrism.First, I reflect on a narrow future-directedness that seems to characterize the temporality of school. I suggest that Philosophy for/with Children (P4wC) interventions interrupt such a future-directedness inviting the students to immerse themselves into a dilated ‘now’ of multiple possibilities. Then, I reflect on the ways in which P4wC interventions challenge the assumption that philosophy is an adult preoccupation. Special attention is paid to the work of scholars who challenge our restrictive assumptions about what qualifies as philosophical thinking.In the second part of my paper, I turn to the work of Merleau-Ponty with the aim of sketching out some requirements for the possibility of a dialogue between childhood and adulthood. I suggest that Merleau-Ponty’s reflections on childhood and expressive speech are invaluable in the context of P4wC because they invite us 1) to appreciate the alterity of children without reducing them to inferior ‘others’ and 2) to remain alert to the expressivity of children’s speech.
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