Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category

A slide version of the SunWALK holistic education model – on what it is to be fully and positively human

A slide version of the SunWALK holistic education model – on  what it is to be fully and positively human:





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ann-margaret-sharpAnn-Margaret Sharp is interviewed here by Saeed Naji.  Ann-Margaret is the chief collaborator with Professor Matthew Lipman in the development of the Philosophy for Children (PFC) programme


Ann Margaret Sharp, the “grand-old-lady” of the Lipman-school, is one of the main characters in the IAPC organisation, and has collaborated with founder Matthew Lipman for many years. She has written philosophical short-stories for children, and has also contributed to several of the teacher manuals.

Saeed Naji is a researcher at the Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies in Tehran, Iran, cfr. http://www.ihcs.ac.ir/. Naji interviewed Ann Margaret Sharp on a P4C-conference in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, on February 26th, 2004. Many thanks to Saeed for letting us publish this interview. Visit Naji’s Iranian P4C-pages: www.p4c.ir

1. Why is the philosophical novel more effective in education than the philosophical text?

John Dewey was wont to remind educators that there is a big difference between the logical development and presentation of a discipline and the psychological, developmental presentation of a discipline.

The philosophical text is an attempt to present philosophy in a logical and comprehensive manner devoid of experience. The philosophical story-as-text is an attempt to motivate children to inquire into philosophical concepts and philosophical procedures in a way that is directly related to children’s experience. In other words, the narrative presents philosophy embedded in the experience of fictional characters.

Children enjoy stories and can be motivated by them to think and inquire if the stories focus on issues and event which they find intriguing and contestable, while remaining connected to their own daily experience. When a story is discussed by a group of children it becomes a vehicle over which children, rather than adults, have control. Unlike the traditional textbook, it is their story and they use it to set an agenda for discussion and philosophical inquiry.

But there is a further reason for using narrative when working with children. We cannot assume that children walk into the classroom able to do philosophy well. They need to know how to proceed, and one effective way to help them acquire this procedural knowledge is to involve them, intellectually as well as emotionally, in the lives of characters who enact and model the processes of inquiry. These characters do not have to be the heroes, heroines and villains one finds in many literary children’s classics, but can be presented as ordinary children much like themselves. These fictional children take up the struggle of articulating what constitutes a good reason, or a good analogy or a good distinction or of examining the assumptions and implications of what is said. By what they think, say and do, they show that they care about ideas and value good thinking–even if they do not always exemplify it in their own behavior. If we can encourage children to identify with the intellectual processes of these characters, then they too will begin to practice these procedures of good inquiry and come to value them.

This view of narrative as a preparation for and a stimulus to children doing philosophy matches, in part, Martha Nussbaum’s account of the relationship between moral education, ethical judgment and narrative… Noting that philosophy must be directed to practical as well as theoretical concerns, Nussbaum, in her Loves Knowledge, makes a compelling case for approaching ethical judgment–making via the particular lives and complex predicaments of fictional characters:

Without a presentation of the mystery, conflict and riskiness of the lived deliberative situation, it will be hard for philosophy to convey the peculiar value and beauty of choosing humanly well… It is this idea that human deliberation is constantly an adventure of the personality, undertaken against terrific odds and among frightening mysteries, and that this is, in fact, the source of much of its beauty and richness, that texts written in traditional philosophical style have the most insuperable difficulty conveying. (p. 142)

All children are engaged in an adventure of making better judgments (whether they realize it or not). This involves thinking, critical, creative and caring thinking, about many aspects of human experience that are not tapped by traditional philosophy textbooks. Children who are in the process of building their own communities of philosophical inquiry will use stories as a springboard or trigger for their own further inquiry. What begins as reflection on a puzzling concept in a story will move to a consideration of questions and ideas which come from the children’s own experience. The stories themselves constitute a vehicle for young persons to gain access to the realm of philosophical inquiry in such a way that they can see the connection between their on-going inquiry and their making of better judgments in their daily lives.

To read the full interview go HERE

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Professor Matthew Lipman – founder of Philosophy for Children (PFC)


Videos of PFC Philosophy for children

NB – I have been asked by Dr McCall to point out that ALL the videos are HERS not Prof. Lipman’s – and there was me thinking that she had learned PFC from Lipman!


Lots more on YouTube under ‘Philosophy for Children’

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Dr Roger Greenaway has a fine site and set of resources covering topics around Action Learning and Experiential Learning – see HERE


All postings to this site relate to the central model in the

PhD. Summaries are HERE

SEE also Learning Motivation for Success

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I came across thi extract from an articles in Newsweek;

Late one February night, more than a dozen masked gun carrying Taliban burst into the 10-room girls’ school in Nooria’s village, Madrawar about 100 miles east of Kabul. They tied up and beat the night watchman, soaked the principal’s office and the library with gasoline, set it on fire and escaped into the darkness. The townspeople, who doused the blaze before it could spread, later found written messages from the gunmen promising to cut off the nose and ears of any teacher or student who dared to return.

The threats didn’t work. Within days, most of the school’s 650 pupils were back to their studies. Classes were held under a grove of trees in the courtyard for several weeks, despite the winter chill, until repairs inside the one-story structure were complete. Nearby schools replaces at least some of the library’s books. But the hate mail kept coming, with threats to shave the teacher’s heads as well as mutilate their faces. Earlier this month, NEWSWEEK visited and talked to students and faculty on the last day of classes. Nooria, who dreams of becoming a teacher herself, expressed her determination to finish school. “I’m not afraid of getting my nose and ears cut off,” she said, all dressed up in a long purple dress and head scarf. “I want to keep studying.” Newsweek June 26, 2006

Thanks to Robert Sweetland’s Notes

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Perhaps we should reflect more about the nature of ignorance in order to understand more about the true nature of knowing.


Sharon Janis in her excellent Spirituality For Dummies suggests that;



There are two kinds of ignorance: positive ignorance and negative ignorance:

* Positive ignorance is when you don’t know and you know you don’t know. This awareness keeps you open and receptive to divine guidance. Knowing you don’t know brings you to your knees before God and helps you to enter a humble and prayerful state.

* Negative ignorance is when you don’t know, but you think you do know. This is really a double ignorance that closes the door to your own divine guidance. Thinking you know when you don’t really know is like traveling to a party on the other side of town with no idea of where the house is, but being too proud and stubborn to admit it and ask directions. Negative ignorance makes you drive around in circles and miss the party of spiritual jubilation!



Sharon also includes the Zen koan;


Once, a university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked on and on about all the intricacies of Zen philosophy. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup for several moments, until he could no longer restrain himself, and finally blurted out, “It’s overfull! No more will go in!”

“You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen until you first empty your cup?”


I have suggested that a useful model of knowing for educators should be a balance of three kinds – ‘I’ knowing, ‘WE’ knowing and ‘IT’ knowing – following Ken Wilber’s categories (see HERE).

As teachers we also need at least a simple ‘taxonomy of ignorance’ in order to gain a basis for evaluation and developing a direction for learning. Of course ignorance is an insufficiency of the abilities pertinent to each of the I,WE and IT voices but perhaps we can go further in understanding what learning-teaching implications there are for profiles of ignorance. What do you think?


All postings to this site relate to the central SunWALK model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE


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Nice to know that in his senior years Howard Gardner agrees with me!

In recent times Howard Gardner might be said to have shifted his position in giving interviews such as the one HERE

This looks to be getting close to my position as set out in the model presented here SEE summaries and diagram HERE

However there is absolutely no bitterness, or envy, about the millions of dollars and the mega-bunch of bright-young-students he’s had to spend on his 7 or 8 intelligences – and then, in his senior years, indicating that that isn’t really the way to go!

Of course the general theory developed by Gardner is true but it didn’t best answer the question behind his late-in-the-day realization about ‘truth beauty and goodness’ (Wilber’s ‘I WE and IT voices’).

What was that question? It is this; “On what should we structure education, so as to get civilizing human beings and civilized societies?”

The answer as I model it is HERE

SEE also InFed


All postings to this site relate to the central SunWALK model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE


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