looking a trojan horse in the mouth: problematizing philosophy for/with children's hope for social reform through the history of race and education in the us





philosophy for children, race and racism, critical race theory, philosophy in public schools, educational reform


Many P4/WC practitioners and theorists privilege the school as a space for thinking and practicing philosophy for/with children. Despite its coercive nature, thinkers such as Jana Mohr Lone, David Kennedy, and Nancy Vansieleghem argue that P4C is a Trojan horse intended to reform the education system from within. I argue, however, that the Trojan horse argument requires us to internalize an incomplete and historically decontextualized understanding of public schools that in turn can reify histories of white supremacy within our CPIs – a consequence that can be particularly harmful when practicing P4C with minority youth. To accurately adjudicate the value of public school classrooms for P4C – especially for those CPIs whose members are primarily Black, Latinx, Indigenous, or other youth of color — I contextualize the Trojan horse argument in the history of race and education in the United States. Through this historical analysis, I conclude that the reformist position becomes increasingly more untenable and that the material history of race and education in fact supports a pessimistic understanding of P4C in education. I end by reflecting on P4C’s need to rethink its privileging of schools as a primary site for philosophical inquiry and caution practitioners against using “social progress” as a justification for how and where they practice their craft. Instead, I encourage them to rethink how and where they practice P4C, based on the local historical and material conditions of the participants. 


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How to Cite

wurtz, jonathan. (2024). looking a trojan horse in the mouth: problematizing philosophy for/with children’s hope for social reform through the history of race and education in the us. Childhood & Philosophy, 20, 01–27. https://doi.org/10.12957/childphilo.2024.80069