Round Tables


Philosophy for Children

Thursday 23 June 2011, 5 – 7.50pm
Room EAS171, New Theatre, East Building, LSE

Philosophy for children

Photo © Edmond Terakopian
World Press Photo award winner and "Photographer Of The Year" in the British Press Awards



Despite a glorious native tradition boasting Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume and Bertrand Russell, to name but a few, our national school system has largely shunned philosophy. Nonetheless, there is increasing public interest in making philosophy a feature of the pre-university education system. Indeed, hundreds of primary schools nationwide are running weekly philosophy classes, while high-profile thinkers and celebrities have campaigned on the issue of the need for a 'fourth "R"': Reasoning.

The aim of this event is to examine the practical implications of teaching the subject to children in primary and secondary school settings, and to look at what the philosophical tradition - from Plato to the Enlightenment through to the present day - has had to say on the question. We also want to look at the policy implications of instituting philosophy into the educational system, be it as an extra curricula activity or as an integral part of the school curriculum.

5.00-5.50pm   Practitioners and Philosophy for Children

Peter Worley|, Chief Executive Officer of The Philosophy Shop
John Taylor|, Director of Critical Studies, Rugby School
Mary Healy|, Senior Lecturer in Education, Roehampton University

Chair: Anthony Seldon|, Master of Wellington College

600-6.50pm   Philosophers and Philosophy for Children

Katerina Deligiorgi|, Senior Lecturer in Literature and Philosophy,
University of Sussex
Angela Hobbs|, Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy and 
Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Warwick; Fellow of the Royal
Society of Arts
Vivienne Orchard|, Lecturer in French, University of Southampton

Chair: Simon Glendinning |, Reader in European Philosophy, European Institute,
LSE and Director of the Forum for European Philosophy

7.00-7.50pm  Policy and Philosophy for Children

Phillip Blond|, Director of ResPublica
Jonathan Douglas|, Director of The National Literacy Trust
John White|, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Education,
Institute of Education, University of London

Chair:  Maurice Fraser|, Senior Fellow in European Politics, European Institute,





Practitioners and Philosophy for Children

The question many people want to know is: Can children do philosophy? Peter Worley|, who has been doing philosophy with children for the past decade, will present an argument (with evidence) adopting a provisional definition of philosophy that will attempt to quell some of the sceptic's concerns.

Teenagers are naturally argumentative; they are also at a stage of life in which they are beginning to reflect more deeply. It makes sense, then, to introduce them to philosophy by giving them a basic training in some elements of the subject. For the past 12 years, John Taylor| has been developing project-based approaches to philosophical questions. In this talk, he will outline how valuable project work can be as a tool for helping young people engage with philosophy.

Mary Healy| will be discussing her experience as both a philosopher and as a practicing primary teacher. She was introduced to Philosophy for Children as a doctoral student whilst teaching children ages 4-7 and 7-11. After taking two Philosophy for Children courses, she adapted the suggested methodology within her teaching over several years.

Philosophers and Philosophy for Children

Katerina Deligiorgi| will compare two Enlightenment educational models, one that she attributes to Rousseau, the other to Kant. Both defend what modern educational theorists call 'value-oriented' education, education guided by values and centrally concerned with imparting values. Equally, both place emphasis on the development of critical faculties and offer objectivist defences of their value commitments. The key difference is that between Kant's formal and Rousseau's substantive educational teleology. Katerina Deligiorgi| seeks to clarify this difference and show the advantages of the former approach.

Although the ancient Greeks do not explicitly recommend teaching philosophy to children, Angela Hobbs| believes that any programme for the teaching of philosophy in schools can benefit hugely from aspects of ancient Greek philosophy. The Greeks can assist with a) content (big ethical questions about a flourishing life and community; intriguing paradoxes: 'you cannot step into the same river twice'), b) method (e.g. clarity of Socratic definition) and c) the promotion of social skills (e.g. philosophy as open-ended dialogue). Angela Hobbs| will explore these three contributions with particular reference to Heraclitus, Zeno and Plato.

Jacques Derrida's contention that 'what has been called deconstruction is also the exposure of the institutional identity of the discipline of philosophy' will form the focus of Vivienne Orchard|'s  talk in terms of the legacies of this body of work and of how to respond to Derrida's engagement with the teaching of philosophy in schools in the highly specific context of French education.

Policy and Philosophy for Children

Phillip Blond|: Philosophy, in the past, grounded educational practice: dialogue, ethical discernment and debating the 'common good' were its primary purposes in both academic and political life. If philosophy is deemed unnecessary for education, is it still possible to form active citizens, social entrepreneurs and a politically engaged society? Reintroducing and implementing a 'philosophy for children' in our modern-day schools will be at once a challenging yet incredibly valuable exercise – for both the character formation vital to a child's development and the needs of the wider community.

Jonathan Douglas|: Literacy is not static but changes in response to social, technological and cultural issues which define what skills are required to read, write, speak and listen. Literacy in our society has never been so complex. Neither has it ever been so vital for social inclusion and mobility. Critical literacy skills sit at the heart of contemporary definitions of what it means to be literate.

John White|: In our age of local financial management, primary schools may wonder about their competence to decide whether to take on Philosophy for Children, and, if they do, to choose among its now many providers. In the absence of other guides, there is a civic role for philosophers of education in helping schools sort through a tangle of issues in the area, not least about how the aims of different kinds of Philosophy for Children work fit in with the schools' own aims.



Roundtable on the Idea of Europe in Philosophy, Art and Literature

Wednesday 3 June 2009, 5.00-7.50pm
Thai Theatre, New Academic Building, Lincoln's Inn Fields, LSE


Hugo Glendinning ©

Elections to the European Parliament will be held in the 27 member states of the European Union between 4 and 7 June 2009, the actual polling days varying from country to country according to local custom: in the UK voting will take place on Thursday 4th June. More than 700 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will be elected by proportional representation to represent some 500,000,000 European citizens, making these the biggest trans-national elections in history.

The aim of this event is to provide an orientation into Europe that has its focus beyond the realm of European Union politics. We will approach Europe as a cultivated space that precedes and stimulates a project of European political governance, a space opened up in its most fundamental aspects by traditions in philosophy, art and literature. Our hope is that through the exploration of these traditions in relation to the idea of Europe we will be able to open debates around Europe in British civil society in a new and compelling way.

There will be three one-hour roundtable sessions, one on each of the elements, each session led by an 'expert witness' who will introduce the topic:

5.00-5.50 Philosophy and the Idea of Europe
Peter Schroder|, University College London
Chair: Simon Glendinning, European Institute, LSE
6.00-6.50 Art and the Idea of Europe
Guy Dammann|, The Guardian
Chair: Jonathan Dronsfield|, University of Reading
7.00-7.50 Literature and the Idea of Europe
Jeremy Lane|, University of Sussex
Chair: Robert Eaglestone|, Royal Holloway,
University London

Round Table with European Migrant Authors

Saturday 28 February 2009, 5pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building

Speakers: Kapka KassabovaMustafa Kör (Belgium, born in Turkey) and
Naema Tahir
(Netherlands, born in Pakistan)
Chair: Professor Luc Bovens 

This roundtable on migrant literature will feature migrant authors who are living and writing in various Western European countries. The migrant intellectual, writes Edward Said, has 'double perspective'. He or she is in a constant dialogue with his or her old and new home. Their writings often convey both a sense of loss and yearning but also display a richness wrought by the integration of multiple cultural identities, unique experiences and diverse modes of expression.

These authors will explore what is it like to be migrant writers in these respective societies-what are the points of divergence, what are the commonalities? The authors will be invited to start off the evening by reading short excerpts from their work that typify their experiences as migrant authors. We will then explore some of the following questions in a roundtable discussion. What modes of expression have migrant writers found to intermediate between where they came from and what they are confronted with in European cultures? What impact does the work of migrant writers have on the politics of multiculturalism in their respective societies? Are the political conditions in their respective countries supportive of artistic work by migrant authors? What explains the interest of the public in migrant literature in contemporary society? How is the work of migrant writers received in their countries of origin?

Kapka Kassabova was born in Bulgaria in 1973 and learned to speak English at the age of 16 when her parents emigrated to New Zealand. She spent time in Buenos Aires, Marseille and Berlin, before settling in Edinburgh, and is the author of two novels, four poetry collections and a couple of travel guides. Her memoir of childhood in Bulgaria, A Street Without a Name|, is published in paperback by Portobello Books in February 2009. For more information see| 

Mustafa Kör was born in Turkey and emigrated to Belgium when he was three years old. He published his first novel De Lammeren (The Lambs) in 2007 and received the El Hizjra Prize of Literature for Uitverkorene (The Chosen).

Besides regular appearances on radio and TV and writing for newspapers and compilations, Naema Tahir has authored three books. A muslimwoman unveils (2005) deals with the effects of migration on the rights of Muslim women. Its impact on the Dutch migration debate was widely recognised, turning Tahir into a frequent debater in Dutch and Flemish media. She was lauded for her best-selling Prized Possession (2006), which describes the largely sexual strategies of three Pakistani women towards achieving autonomy and dignity. She earned a scholarship from the Dutch Society of Authors. Her novel Lonelinesses (2008) tackles the struggle for identity in a radicalising family of immigrants, giving further proof of Tahir’s sharp-eyed and humoristic observation. Het most recent novel Little Green Riding Hood and the Converted Wolf, was launched in October 2008 and received extremely well in Belgium and the Netherlands. This book of political fairy tales deals with morality amongst Muslims.

The event is co-organised by Professor Luc Bovens (LSE) and Stefanie van Gemert (UCL) and co-sponsored by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Van Gennep Publishers, Portobello Books, the Migration Studies Unit, POLIS Journalism and Society, and the Forum for European Philosophy.

This event is part of the LSE Space for Though Literary Weekend |Friday 27 February - Sunday 1 March

The Literary Weekend celebrates the completion of the New Academic Building at LSE, with a range of events exploring the interaction between the arts and the social sciences.