Philosophy, Exposure, and Children: How to Resist the Instrumentalisation of Philosophy in Education

Journal of Philosophy of Education 45 (2):305-319 (2011)
The use of philosophy in educational programmes and practices under such names as philosophy for children, philosophy with children, or the community of philosophical enquiry, has become well established in many countries around the world. The main attraction of the educational use of philosophy seems to lie in the claim that it can help children and young people to develop skills for thinking critically, reflectively and reasonably. By locating the acquisition of such skills within communities of enquiry, the further claim is that engagement with philosophy can foster the development of moral reflection and sensitivity and of social and democratic skills more generally. Claims like these provide a set of arguments for the inclusion of philosophy in the school curriculum that goes well beyond philosophy as just another curricular subject or body of knowledge. The aim of this article is to raise some questions about the conception of education that appears to inform the discussion about the educational use of philosophy. My ambition is to suggest an additional rather than an alternative view about the educational use of philosophy in the hope that this may act as a reminder of a different way in which one can engage with philosophy in educational settings which, in turn, might also act as a reminder of how philosophy might engage with us. The philosophical distinction in which my argument is phrased is that between humanism and post-humanism and the guiding educational concept is that of exposure
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9752.2011.00792.x
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John White (2012). Philosophy in Primary Schools? Journal of Philosophy of Education 46 (3):449-460.

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