Creative Teaching & Learning

Putting the child into Philosophy For Children

Children are already powerful young people, it’s high time we recognised them as such, explains Sue Lyle.

The way schools and teachers practice today are shaped by competing ideas of children and learning. Some of these ideas have their roots in history and religion; others are more recent and come from psychology, sociology or increasingly the government. All impact on how teachers look at the child in front of them. In Philosophy for Children there is a clear commitment to the concept of a competent, rights-bearing child; the child as constructor of their own knowledge, as a powerful interpreter of their own lives and rich in potential. Philosopher Mary John who has written extensively on the rights of the child asks us to look at children and see: …not the children’s needs and deficits… but their hopes and aspirations, their dreams, their visions and their untrammelled imaginings – as if these things mattered. Doing so will treat children and represent them as if they are people, powerful people, not as people in the making (John, 2003: 19).

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