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Book Review (By Ms. Sehrash Mahfooz)

Teaching Thinking: Philosophical enquiry in the classroom (2nd Edition)

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Author: Robert Fisher                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Publisher: Continuum; LONDON. New
York: 2003

thinking is a sourcebook of ideas to help teachers, students and others
interested in education to understand and engage in philosophical enquiry with
children. It illustrates how philosophical discussion can help to promote
critical thinking as well as the moral and social values essential for
citizenship in a democratic society. It shows how a community of enquiry can be
created in any classroom, enriching learning across the whole curriculum.

Robert Fisher (Professor of Education at Brunel University) offers an easily
accessible wealth of ideas to facilitate philosophical discussion, to present
contexts for moral education, to improve the quality of critical thinking, and
more. A welcomed resource and a useful tool, teaching Thinking is especially
commended to the attention of classroom teachers at the secondary school and
collegiate levels of instruction.” Library Book watch, Jan. 2004. Lipman
with his co-author left his post as philosophy
professor at Columbia University and founded in 1974
the Institute, for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC)
to research and develop the
Philosophy for Children curriculum.

This book begins
by exploring reasons why teaching thinking is so important, and the role
philosophy can play in providing the means for developing more effective
thinking. Robert Fisher is Professor of Education in the School of Education,
Brunel University. Robert fisher is also Director of the Centre for Research in
Teaching Thinking. In this book he discuss about teaching children how to
discuss matters of importance in way that help develop their thinking and
learning. It is not about teaching children the subject of philosophy, but how
to engage them a special kind of discussion – Philosophical discussion.

It aims to show
ways in which philosophical discussion can be used to add value to our speaking
and listening with children at home and school. It is about what we do with
children every day in talking and thinking with them, but try to do it in
better ways through an approach called philosophy for children. This book is divided in four main parts that
is focus of enquiry, general theory, applied theory and extended theory.

The challenge to
improve children’s thinking, learning and language lies at the heart of
education. This book makes a contribution to the theory and practice of
philosophy with children, illustrated with example of philosophy discussion
mainly derived from the author’s research with teachers and children in school
settings, in particular the Philosophy in Primary Schools (PIPS) project
carried out in London schools 1993-6.   Excerpts
are intended to allow the voices of children and teachers to be heard, and to
illustrate ways in which philosophical enquiry can be conducted with children
of different ages and abilities.

The book begins
by exploring reasons why teaching thinking is so important, and the role
philosophy can play in providing the means for developing more effective
thinking. Teaching thinking is organized in four parts. ; The focus of inquiry
is focus in first chapter deal with the question, Why philosophy? Thinking
about thinking. In this chapter writer explain about the thinking is need to
develop is the basic skills of curriculum. Because important part of society is
intellectual resource of its people. “A successful society will be a thinking
society in which the capacities for lifelong learning of its citizens are most
fully realized” (p.8.). They also argue that is it possible to develop thinking
in student have been able to intellectual deal with unpredictable future.

But the question
is that how much every teacher develop these thinking with cover the, what is
actually going to right direction as a free well intellectual one. “Why, for
Example, is a commitment to social justice (a manifestation of the principle of
equality) more important than a commitment to children becoming free (a
manifestation of the principle of liberty)? After all, child-centered theorists
(from Rousseau to A. S. Neill and mavericks like Homer Lane) have consistently
emphasized the centrality of the child’s autonomy and the creation of a “free”
learning environment, Indeed, there are critical educational issues about the
development of  “free persons, ” how that
is done, how freedom connects to freedom of choice (Peters, 1966, 1972)”.

The question
develop thinking about what type of thinking? Is much needed to develop at what
level. Sometime teachers do their duties to accomplish their own duties but the
after achieving the objectives how much we ensure this metacognitive process
transfer to coming generation as it purposeful needed. “Compound interest
metacognitive strategies can be said to increase the learner’s intellectual
capacity” (p.15.). Its develops with personal free will with interest but the
fault is how much we focused? “Philosophy helps us to focus attention on
concepts and questions central to human understanding.” (p.17.).

The author work
on research of teaching thinking and
he used the inspection repot of 1895 illustrates both the strength and weakness
of traditional teaching in school:  This gap between the traditional methods to be
cover with the enquiry learning, because its developing high order thinking
with challenging cope up as compare to develop sufficient demanding
understanding. Developing reasoning, analysis and context specific thoughts are
turned-out with intellectual decision making process. According the author
views Philosophy helps children to develop critical thinking to encounter cater
of individual stance at every step they followed in life oriented. “They
(Philosophy) develop a growing awareness of themselves as thinkers, summed up
by one 11-year-old who said, ‘Philosophy is a kind of exercise in which you
train yourself to be a better thinker’ (p.21.).”

The second part of the book is
the General Theory, consisting of two chapters, its cover the second and third
chapter. The second chapter term ‘Philosophy for children’ (Teaching Children
to think) the author refers in this part to ways of introducing children about philosophical
discussion through a community of enquiry approach, whereas philosophy for
children refer to the programme created by Mathew Lipman and colleague at
Montclair University (USA) discussed in Philosophy for children,
teaching children to think.

The author share the
experience of Columbia University,
where he had a chair in philosophy and observe child
curiosity and interest for learning in cross bored on
that age. By nature children
have a curiosity for learning and traditional method of teaching fail to fulfil
that’s child’s
needs. Accomplish that child urges Lipman propose
philosophy as a curriculum, because he
believe these course would develop reasoning skills.

“What Lipman calls a ‘Community
of Inquiry’ (p.32.).”

Philosophy is a process of
enquiry it is a creative process rather than an imposed body of knowledge.
Philosophical enquiry for children is start from early age to develop critical
thinking “Moving from the surface of things to the structure of things, from
what Socrates calls the ‘unconsidered life’ (Plato: Apology) to a considered
view which backs claims and opinions with reasons (p.39.).” The coauthors
suggest that stimulus for discussion with student is element of reason and

Community of Enquiry: Creating
context for moral Education. In this third chapter author discussed about the
teach a student as a thought full and reasonable person from side to side the
contributing in a community of enquiry children encourage the social habits required
for the good moral conduct. “a community of enquiry can help children develop
the skills and disposition that will enable them to play their full part in a
pluralistic and democratic society. It boosts self-esteem, intellectual confidence
and the ability to participate in the reasoned discussion (p.55.).”

The idea community of learning
provide the environment which the sensible organized, created for an individual
freedom. Discussion also play a vital role to work on a community learning.

“A community of enquiry aspire to
the conditions of a natural community, united by the following characteristics:
Shared experience, Voluntary communication, shared understanding of meanings.
(p.60)” The author suggest how to community inquiry created in the classroom
with the help of community setting a shared stimulus to think about invitation
activity and discussion of extended thinking. From children response to such
story program with the help of page argument that moral development could be
view as to distinguish stages: authoritarian morality or autonomous morality.
Morals are not simply a matter are following rule either conventional or self-accepted
rules but relates also the outcomes we want to achieve including the sort of
person we want to be and what sort of place we want to the moral world to
become. There are different approaches to be used for the moral and social
valves to be thought. Those are religious and moral values.

The Author also recommended a
strategies to evaluate the process about community of enquiry that is started
from self-evaluation then others, society and beyond.

The third Part of the book is
Applied Theory; comprised of three chapters. In first chapter stories for
thinking consist of using stories to develop thinking and literacy. The author
revealed the story used as a natural stimulus for discussion. The author used
this method because he thinks that is most widely used way of organizing human
experiences. And not only powerful in the effective domain, but also provide
potential for cognitive processing.

In this chapter author examined
the “Cycle of Learning” whose stages he identified as follows:

Stage 1: Romance – involving
arousal of interest and learner involvement.

Stage 2: Precision – where attention
is given to the details of what is being learnt.

Stage 3: Generalization – where
what is learned is applied and used.

The author also examined the
problematic feature of the story that is content, temporal order, particular
events, intention, choices and meaning about the telling. In this case he also
share the experienced about PIPS project, story material and texts suitable for
philosophical inquiry. In this way invited a student through these topics for
leading a discussion as a philosophical inquiry.

Second chapter of this third part is Socratic Teaching that is facilitating
philosophical discussion. Socrates uses question as a means of approaching
truth through the use of reason in a shared enquiry. For Socrates the search
for truth is moral enterprise. “The Socratic method of teaching is through
dialogical enquiry facilitated by questioning. The teacher is to assist people
in giving birth to their own ideas (p.142.).”

Traditional the
contrast has been drawn between the ‘Socratic method’ and ‘academic’ traditions
of teaching. The Socratic Method is applicable to life and open for all in
contrast the academic tradition is abstract truths and for the few only. The
Socratic Method is dived further two approaches the Socratic enquiry and the Socratic
questioning. The Socratic enquiry seek the truth through the sequences of
question. The process called cross-examination. The aim of Socrates dialogue is
to achieve consensus. The Socratic question is a genuine invitation is enquiry,
its provide stimulus for thinking and responding. “The Socratic teacher aware
of this problem seeks to provide an environment in which students can discover
and explore their own beliefs. Such teachers create opportunity for thoughtful
discussion, and encourage the conditions in which operational beliefs can be
brought to consciousness through reflective thinking. (p. 157.) ”

philosophical discussion in Socratic way is broadly divided into three kinds,
the unplanned enquiry, the investigation and the problem solving. A Socratic
discussion is about the arguments and the goal is self-correcting and to teach
the constructive resolution.

The last chapter
of this applied part is philosophy in the classroom: Reviewing and assessing
progress. In this
chapter looks at research which shows at philosophy for children can be
successful in developing reading ability verbal reasoning and other skills. The
author explain the community setting of the classroom in “creating a thinking
circle” to encourage participation, the stimulus is positive cognitive
intervention. During a discussion listing a question and responding to choosing
a question for discussion in this way the rules for enquiry to facilitating and
leading the discussion in a community learning setting. Extended the enquiry
through the exercises, discussion plans and games. The author share the
experience about the Chinese philosopher to illustrate the idea about
philosophical discussion. There are two ways of gather evidence of progress
about philosophical discussion, through self-assessment of participants and
analysis evidence of the discussion.                 

The fourth part
of the book is extended Theory; cover the philosophy across the curriculum:
Improving the quality of thinking and learning. This chapter shows the
opportunity for philosophical enquiry can occur in any subject area of the curriculum,
philosophy involves process of enquiry that link to all areas of the
curriculum. The
community of enquiry provides their own path to personal meanings and shared
values. The different skills information-processing skills, questioning skills,
reasoning skills, Creative thinking skills and evaluation skills.

conclusion of this book teaching of philosophy for children is not easy, no
matter what our level of experience and expertise might be. It is a challenging
task, but one founded on a natural curiosity about the world and the human
capacity to create and share ideas with others. The author experienced on this
book, a community of enquiry is a method of mutual help for
investigating issues and solving problems, encouraging students to be active
participants in the learning process, making their own discoveries and
facilitating their own understanding under the guidance of a discussion leader.
A community of enquiry provides children with the opportunity both to create
and to challenge the moral order. Teachers experienced in leading philosophical
discussion report a number of professional benefits including becoming more
effective in their teaching through, for example, the use of discussion in the
classroom. Philosophy is more than an exercise in thinking skills, it is a way
of life that helps you create a better life.

A fully updated
third edition of the highly successful guide to using discussion in the
classroom to develop children’s thinking, learning and literacy skills. This
new edition includes material on the latest trends in teaching thinking,
including dialogic teaching, creativity and personalized learning. This of
ideas is essential reading for anyone seeking to develop children’s minds, to
build their self-esteem or to improve the quality of teaching and learning in


Peters, R. S. (1966). Ethics
and education. London: Allen and Unwin.

Peters, R. S. (1972). Education
and human development. In R. F. Dearden, P. H. Hirst, & R. S. Peters
(Eds.), Education and the development of
reason (pp. 501-521). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Lipman, M, (1982), ‘Philosophy for Children’, Thinking: the Journal for Philosophy for
Children, Vol.3, p. 37.

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