one more question …

thoughts from a trainer’smeeting: how radical is P4C? – Linked on our blogs with PHILO – ACTION, POUR PENSER ET CHANGER L’ECOLE, and with student teachers and first-year teachers for social justice.

Published on Steve Bramall Associates SBA, by Steve Bramall, October 7, 2010.

… So two very different approaches stemming from two very different conceptions of philosophy. On the one hand, radical (democratic) philosophy, and on the other, conservative (non-democratic) philosophy. How do the differences  play out in practice? Perhaps an interesting analysis is in terms of the challenges faced.

  • Radical facilitators face the challenges that come with building individual and group autonomous self management … Conservative facilitators have to deal effectively with the technical difficulties of speaker management.
  • Radical stimulus choice means finding materials that engage themes that emerge from the lived experience of participants, that enable concept formation and analysis that is locally empowering. 
  • Radical stimulus choice might involve participants co-determining the agenda … Conservative stimuli are thought experiments, audience friendly versions of pre-existing engaging parts of the philosophy canon; ‘The Ship of Theseus’, ‘Same River Twice’, ‘Brain Swap’ and so on. Material is selected and presented in a way that gets people thinking deeply about fundamental questions about identity, free will, moral dilemmas etc. and helps to initiate them into some of the content and methods of traditional philosophy.
  • Radical trainers are urged to think philosophically about aims and values and have the task of enabling others to become more radical and reflective practitioners … Conservative trainers need facilitation skills coupled with a love of academic philosophy so they can enthuse others with their passion for spreading access to the great questions and higher order thinking of the subject discipline.

With such engaging presentations, and such a sharp contrast, it would be hard not to accept the challenge to think. It’s one I readily accept, and so I’m grateful to have been involved on Saturday. And thinking about the contrasts and similarities between the ‘radical’ and ‘conservative’ versions of philosophy raises some important questions. My top 3 in order of importance are … (full text).

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