Philosophers as Children: Playing with style in the philosophy of education

Educational Philosophy and Theory 39 (5):506-518 (2007)
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Abstract

In this article the questions of what counts as play and philosophy are considered in relation to the question of early education for young children. The child subject characterised by the themes of playfulness, emotion, and irrationality is compared to the playful philosopher emanating from the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Michel Foucault. This analysis contributes to the exploration of themes of truth and difference, the search for challenges to styles of philosophy in education, and to the role of the educator in knowing and producing a particular creative child subject. Relationships between child and adult, player and philosopher are explored in order to question what counts as style, play and philosophy for both the child who is required to contribute as a creative player, and for the educator who is required to facilitate the development of such a child. The contemporary valorisation of children as active and constructive philosophers is, then, critically examined in terms of what counts as a philosopher and/or a child, and who gets to ‘do’ creative and playful philosophy. This article draws upon the New Zealand curriculum framework for early childhood education, Te Whāriki, and the work of Paulo Ghiraldelli, in exploring the contributions of both child and adult to the experience of education and philosophy.

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