why am i here? the challenges of exploring children's existential questions in the community of inquiry

luca zanetti


Children ask existential questions, that is, questions about death, the meaning of existence, free will, God, the origin of everything, and kindred questions. P4/wC has the aspiration to give to children the occasion to discover and explore their questions in a safe environment, the community of inquiry. Thus, existential questioning should be possible in a community of inquiry. However, it is unclear whether the pedagogy of the community of inquiry can accommodate existential questioning. The chief trouble is that existential questioning might be a cause of suffering: children might be unable to contain the emotional intensity that is experienced when we inquire about topics like death and the meaning of existence. In a community of inquiry, the emphasis over the community and the autonomy that children experience in choosing the questions for their inquiry might create occasions of suffering: some children might not be prepared to discuss existential issues or might be troubled by the candidate answers they explore and eventually end up to endorse. In this paper I highlight some of the main challenges that we need to face if we want to make room for existential questioning in the community of inquiry.


existential questions; taboo topics; community of inquiry; children on the meaning of life; children on death.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12957/childphilo.2020.47050


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