THE WHAT: The aim is to make Philosophy as a discourse easily accessible to everyone thereby inculcating a philosophical temper among the society. One of the core activities of the Barefoot Philosophers is the intervention at an educational level. Introducing philosophical ideas at school levels is key for a sustainable approach. To create a platform for an exchange of ideas and debates by means of modular workshops and activities. These workshops will not be about philosophy as a discipline but more about philosophy as a way of thinking and doing.
THE WHY: Philosophy is what children naturally do. Inquisitiveness, questioning, curiosity, and wonder are the very nature of childhood and they can see the world for what it is. Children are the first philosophers. Philosophy as a discipline is a means of creating multiple descriptions of the world around us. As such, it has characteristics that align with a child’s interest and exposes them to an insight that how philosophy is a crucial part of their everyday lives and of everyone’s experiences.
The vision is to introduce philosophy to children. Fostering in them the skills of creativity, critical thinking and inquiry will help them to become better citizens and human beings. Previous experience with Summer Camp for kids has thrown valuable insights on their ability to reason, reflect upon their own thoughts, logically build an argument, and to engage in philosophical dialogue.
THE HOW: The workshop is designed and aimed to bring in the key skills of critical thinking and reflecting by way of Philosophy. More like Thinking through Philosophy which will benefit the students in their thought formulation, reasoning, articulation, and writing skills. The sessions conducted by Barefoot Philosophers will be engaging and interactive. The goal is to nurture the curious, inquisitive attitude in kids by showing them different ways of thinking. The Children’s workshop will introduce the kids to philosophical thinking. An understanding of how philosophy can contribute to the sharpening of their cognitive abilities. The focus will be on thinking and analyzing what is put in front of us and not delving deep into metaphysics or the general history of philosophy.
The workshops engage the children on three fronts:
- Thinking & Rethinking: The exercises and activities are designed to help them voice their ideas, stories, and opinions and then critically examine them. Critical thinking is crucial in any learning environment and is the bedrock of any meaningful learning experience.
- Articulating ideas: Students will be guided through the process of learning to articulate their ideas with clarity and compassion. Children learn a lot from their peer group and enabling meaningful discourse is vital to this process of knowledge-sharing.
- Social Learning: The interaction between children in a group setting is an important window into their core assumptions of human interaction. Group activities are designed to highlight these assumptions so that they can be examined more critically. Rather than asking them to be kind, the workshop will show them how to question whether they are being kind.
The goal of the workshop is not to train them to find answers to age old questions but to encourage them to ask new ones. More than a seminar/ lecture, it will be an interactive session/ workshop with fun activities for the students. We would also like this to be an open event for the students, irrespective of their grades or background. There is not any qualification that we are looking for in terms of participation.
The workshops are designed and curated into a 6-module course that can be altered to suit the needs of the number of participants and ages accordingly.
The 6-module course will comprise of the following sessions:
- Thinking and Imagination: This guides the children on how to think about a problem, how to raise new and unanswered questions, tackle situations and problems that are entirely new to them, making logical connections, building an argument, and reasoning. The discussions are centered on the act of thinking. What is it to think? What is it that you do when you think? How is it you know that you are thinking? When you think, does your body feel that you are thinking? Is mind doing the thinking or brain? What are the body parts that you use for thinking? Are our brains and mind the same or different? How do you know there is something called the mind? Where is the mind? Is thinking similar to the imagination? The session will expose to them, how thinking is like a ladder, making a connection. Logical thinking i.e. each step going from one step to another, and how they use reason and logic in everyday life as every action that they do is based on a logical idea and by recalling a previous experience.
- Writing: The students gain insights into the process of articulation of their thoughts and ideas into words. What most people struggle with today is how to put forth their thoughts in the written form, by being exposed to various strategies on writing and styles of writing, they will be better equipped to present what they think and feel.
- Language: What is language and what is its function in our ordinary lives? How does language affect and influence learning and understanding? Students have to cope with the mother-tongue and learning in acquired language conflict in most cases and this session will serve as a platform to understanding the complexities in language and translation and what happens to the meaning of something when translated.
- Perception: This session deals with the nature of seeing, how seeing is influenced by the eyes and the brain. The discussions will be centered on, but not limited to the question like, is it the eyes perceiving or the brain? Where is the memory present? Do our eyes change the way you look at the world and how do you know eyes are not magnifying the world? Reality is influenced by perception and even entities that we think so real are perceived differently by different individuals. Children are guided to understand that the same thing can be looked at differently and none of us are seeing the same world. The way we imagine is influenced by our background, we attach categories from our memory and past experiences while seeing the world and the that the brain is stitching images.
- Ethics and Morality: This session shows how philosophy is an ideal program to foster ethical thinking, moral judgement, and reasoning in children. Children debate and dialogue on issues of ethical concerns, and how to act on it. They explore the idea of fairness and justice and other significant concepts like hierarchy, unequal sharing, differential access to opportunities through means of activities and interactions in the form of shared narratives and collective thinking. Past experiences have shown, how strongly the idea of right and wrong is present in their everyday lives, from a very young age, and how children can make moral judgments and decisions.
- Identity: This session focuses on the core issue of identity. Finding the foundational principals and suppositions on the concept of identity, whether singular or collective, personal or social? Identity and belongingness, affiliation, and classification.
Philosophy starts from wonder and is a means of creating multiple descriptions of the world. As a subject, it has characteristics that can interest children and that align with the nature of children and childhood. The very nature of childhood such as a child’s open-mindedness to new concepts, inquisitiveness, and their curious nature makes them better philosophers. It is with this aim and motivation, that the workshops are introduced to school children and to show them how philosophy is so much a part of their everyday lives and of each and everyone’s experiences.
THE OUTPUT: Apart from the learning of crucial skills and insights, the work done by the students will be documented by us (Barefoot Philosophers) which may be published on the Kids section of the Barefoot Philosophers Website (after seeking permission). This can serve as a great platform for the student’s voices and writings to be heard, read, and give them a unique exposure to presenting their work to a larger audience.
FOR Information on collaborating with us for these workshops, write to us at at the email below with “Barefoot Children’s philosophy workshop” in the subject line.
For the next workshop, keep a watch on our notice board or events, we will announce new programs soon.