Tomorrow's Achievers launch new philosophy masterclass

Tuesday, 12th February, 2019

We’re delighted to announce that Tomorrow’s Achievers is launching a new masterclass with a philosophical theme, called ‘How to Think Differently’ on 16th March in London.

Masterclass leader Marcelo Staricoff, aka ‘The Philosophy Man’, believes that all children are born philosophical. He has worked with schools for a number of years embedding philosophical thought and enquiry as a whole-school approach, and seen it have a transformative effect on children’s learning.

We asked him a bit more about how philosophy can help children of all abilities – even the most able - to be energised and to think differently.

You are passionate about all children learning philosophy. Why? 

I have been using Philosophy as a way of inspiring children with a love of learning, a love of thinking and of a love of the world we live in for more than twenty years now. I never cease to be amazed by the originality of thought that always emerges in sessions and by how much children of all ages enjoy philosophical discussions.

Philosophy enables children to view and think about life and everyday occurrences differently and from new perspectives. Here’s one example – just by asking children the about whether time exists or not, they become enthralled by what at first seems something very simple to answer, but which actually prompts them to think deeply and differently about something they encounter and deal with on a daily basis. ‘Of course it exists!’ is often their immediate reaction, but it doesn’t take long for deeper thoughts to emerge, like 'is it real or did humans invent it?' or 'If it is real, why can we not physically hold a minute in our hands?' If it is not real, but they can ‘see it’ on a clock, does that mean that it is possible to see things that doesn’t exist?

Children love the fact that in philosophy, they can never be wrong, as by definition it deals with questions that don’t have an answer or that have more than one answer - and sometimes the teacher doesn't know the answer either! Philosophy is a fantastic vehicle for removing the worry from children of thinking that they always have to have the right answer.

Philosophy also has the unique ability of transforming classrooms into the most wonderful and inspirational ‘communities of enquiry’. In these settings, the children learn to develop all the skills, dispositions and behaviours that enable them to learn within a values-based, respectful, safe and mutually supportive environment.

These settings act as a perfect mirror of society and of the outside world, helping to equip all children with all the tools and dispositions that they need in order to develop as successful lifelong learners, individuals, and global citizens. 

I really love the way Philosophy encourages children to question, experiment and play intellectually and critically with their thinking. Through Philosophy children are able to explore ideas and concepts that are really relevant to their lives, bringing all their passions and wonders into the heart of the classroom and of the curriculum. 

What I love most about Philosophy, however, is that as with all the best learning, Philosophy enables children to learn at their best, without even realising that they are learning!

What will children experience on the 'How to think differently' masterclass?

On the Masterclass, the children will experience a very original way of thinking about the world, that I hope they will find fascinating, enjoyable, fun and very addictive.

The Masterclass will introduce children to the wonders of thinking philosophically, to the value of posing and discussing philosophical questions and of using their natural curiosity for the world to develop their creative and critical thinking skills. It will teach them to become effective lifelong learners by exploring how to be collaborative, resourceful, resilient and think about their own thinking.

We will formulate philosophical questions together to give children an idea of how these are different from the more familiar questions that they are used to. We will establish an inspirational values-led community of enquiry so that all children feel free to think, knowing that in philosophy they can never be wrong. They will learn to listen to each other, to respect each other’s views, to develop their confidence in sharing their ideas in public and to develop a lifelong love of learning, and of thinking and not knowing!

We will learn to think like a philosopher and how to discuss amazing concepts, exploring them from lots of different points of view, learning to agree, disagree, respond, question, and change our minds several times.

The actual word ‘Philosophy’ means ‘a love of wisdom’ and this is what we will ensure that the children leave with plenty of, at the end of the day. The day will be full of fascinating, mind-boggling and thought-provoking philosophical conversations, debates, drama exercises, art and games that will make children think and wonder about the world in ways they never imagined possible!

We will read stories written to promote philosophical discussions with children, use and make a number of resources that bring philosophy alive and enable the children to continue being fascinated by philosophy when they come home. 

Does philosophy have particular benefits for children with high learning potential?

I think that Philosophy is unique in enabling children to develop their enormous potential for creative thinking, for having innovative ideas and for being able to make sense of the world by making connections between what they know and what they are learning. It makes children very aware of how enormous and limitless their own potential is, as learners, thinkers and curious and inquisitive human beings.

Philosophy makes all children feel equally intelligent, equally respected and equally valued. It enables children who are able to think deeply about a topic to develop these thoughts even further, considering new aspects and lines of enquiry introduced by others. Philosophy also enables all children to feel that they can share their thoughts and ideas with their peers and adults secure in the knowledge that their thoughts will always be appreciated and valued.

Philosophy encourages children to build upon ideas being shared, as everyone’s contributions are met with a positive comment and are placed in the context of what is being discussed, and of new avenues to explore, adding to the knowledge that everyone is gaining.

It is fascinating too for children to learn to describe their thoughts clearly and see how persuasive they can be by doing this. This can often result in other children or adults changing their minds, as children are able to offer perspectives on a theme that no one had considered before.

The wonderful thing about Philosophy is that it also provides children with the opportunity to regard the curriculum as an intellectually playful process; for example, starting a lesson that is intended to teach children about 2d shape with the question ‘Do 2D shapes exist?’ is incredibly powerful and makes children feel very motivated to then want to learn and discover new things.

Philosophy is a great vehicle for stimulating the love of learning in children who have had the opportunity to show high potential in specific areas, but also, unlike any other subject, Philosophy has the ability to stimulate the ‘high potentiality’ that I think exists in all children and is just waiting for the right conditions for it to come to the fore.

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