philosophy with children, between patience and urgency: from paradox to challenge

gilles abel


On the occasion of the 30th birthday of the philosophy for children movement, it may be appropriate to ask about the status of philosophical discussion with children, both in its theoretical foundations and in its practical implications. Assuming that the objectives it gave itself represent more a horizon than a final goal, we might ask, what is in this project, simultaneously pedagogical, political and humanist, both a paradox and a challenge? The purpose of this article is to argue that this is only an apparent paradox, and in fact fuels a challenge to defend and promote the practice and the processes associated with conducting philosophical discussion with children. I attempt to show in three steps how this apparent paradox is in fact a challenge, and how both are part of the matrix of philosophy for children itself since it appeared, but even more in our contemporary context. The first step entails a preliminary definition of this paradox. In this way, it will be possible to identify its global morphology, its epistemological issues, and the hermeneutical presuppositions on which it is based. In a second step, I further explore one of the two foundations of this paradox—that which concerns the historical urgency to develop the theory and practice of philosophical discussion with children. This analysis will have as its goal not only to emphasize the subversive and transformational nature of the process, but also to make clear how its legitimacy is at the same time the engine of its expansion. Finally, a third step argues for the political importance of philosophical discussion with children, and identifies it as an individual and collective horizon, profoundly fertile, with historic significance for the prospect of sustainable development of our natural and human environment.


Lucidité; Défi; Responsabilité; Confusion; Espoir


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e-issn 1984-5987 | p-issn 2525-5061