Throughout my studies as a pre-service educator so far, I have came across many different theorists. Many of whom I agree with and can relate to and a few maybe not so much. Two theorists who have stuck with me include Lipman and Plato.
Children have an amazing ability to wonder and I believe we should encourage this ability through our teaching to amplify enthusiasm by transforming the classroom into a community of inquiry. Lipman advocated this concept through his theory of philosophy for children. He believed that open-ended dialogue was a really important part of the learning process and in this community of inquiry, the teacher is simply a facilitator and to give the students the opportunity to explore their thoughts and interests by asking questions and thinking for themselves. “He defines philosophical discussions as a process whereby we clarify meanings, uncover assumptions, analyse concepts, consider reasoning and investigate ideas” (Davey Chester, 2009, Slide 8). Plato questioned using certain dialectic or dialogical methods with children, because he thought that it would encourage them to be in particularly adversarial or disagreeable. Lipman was adamant that it was a process rather than a discipline and that if we teach children how to engage in a community of inquiry that it would actually have the opposite effect to what Plato considered would happen if we do philosophy with children. (Davey Chesters, 2009, Slide 7) I feel that this high quality reflective thinking assists the individuals in expanding the connections between concepts and issues of importance to them and as a result it enhances talents, passions and interests which are fundamental in lighting the fire of curiosity in students to inspire learning.
I have difficulty relating to and fully understanding Plato’s theory of Forms, according to which the world we know through the senses is only an imitation of the pure, eternal, and unchanging world of the Forms. (http://www.iep.utm.edu/plato/) You can also read more relating this theory in Plato’s Allegory of the cave. (http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/~matlmc/Allegory_cave.pdf) Plato was profoundly influenced by Socrates who argued ideas are already within each person’s mind. The teacher’s task is to draw ideas out of student’s minds by asking them probing and challenging questions that cause them to think critically, deeply and reflectively about their beliefs requiring critical examination of beliefs, opinions and tradition. I feel to an extent the teacher’s role is to guide the student to make connections between concepts they already know but I disagree that all knowledge is already in the mind waiting to be drawn out by the teacher.