Philosophy for Children Essay

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I. The concept of the Community of Inquiry

Central to the heart of P4C lies the notion of a community of inquiry. Originally a term from Pierce to reference interaction among scientists, the concept of "COI" dominates the discussion of educational revisionism as presented by commentators on the P4C movement. The key description marking a COI is: a group (a social setting) of individuals who use dialogue (interaction among participants) to search out the problematic borders of a puzzling concept (inquiry as philosophical.) Implicit in the ideal workings of this group are two key concepts:

a demonstration of thinking that is caring (each member is supported and allowed to be an integral member of the community), creative (new ideas
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Two of these controversial issues are:

the ontological nature of the individual vs. that of the community the criteria of a "good" reason (the question of truth) or discovery vs. construction
It is important to recognize the presence of these issues within the P4C method and to explore how these issues color our vision of that method. We will note certain tensions among writers about P4C in terms of which metaphysical vision best embraces the ideals behind the COI. In the sections below I will suggest also a series of questions that are provoked by discussions of the COI which will hopefully lead to further reflection and dialogue with the P4C community itself.

II. Individual vs. Community

In his article "The Five Communities" (1) David Kennedy offers us a rich differentiation of a COI into communities of gesture, language, mind, love, and interest. (2) The concepts of gesture and language highlight the nuances of human communication that embrace physical stance, the unspoken presentation of the body itself as response and the powerful nature of spoken language as enriched by "stress, pitch, contour and juncture" (3) in addition to one's personal vocabulary and idiosyncratic use of words. By his phrase, "community of mind" Kennedy attempts to capture a phenomenological sense of mind as active agent immersed in a spatio-temporal-affective locus which is ever changing. He draws a portrait of the situatedness of thought which nevertheless struggles to
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