resources for teachers

Teacher resources

A list of key resources for teachers reviewed by Dr Sandra Lynch.

In response to the requests of teachers the NSW Association has compiled an annotated bibliography of texts that it recommends to teachers practising philosophy in the classroom.  They provide teachers both with practical models and also with some of the theoretical underpinnings of the inquiry model used by the Philosophy in Schools Association. Using these materials teachers can become acquainted with and develop facility in the methodology and techniques of philosophical inquiry and are also given the support necessary to enable them to choose and devise their own classroom materials. Prepared by Dr Sandra Lynch.

The texts are listed under two headings:

  • those suitable for use in the classroom
  • those valuable as reference material or background reading.

Classroom Material
** Cam, Philip (ed.), Thinking Stories 1 & 2: Philosophical Inquiry for Children and Thinking Stories: Teacher Resource/Activity Book (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1994). Thinking Stories 1 & 2 are collections of stories for Middle & Upper Primary students, which encourage philosophical inquiry about topics such as truth, ‘goodness’, ‘friendship’, ‘fairness’, our experience of time and change, and our relationship with the environment. The activity books accompanying the collections complement and supplement the stories providing discussion plans, activities and exercises to stimulate inquiry and giving practical advice on the best use of the manuals. This series provides an excellent model for teachers introducing philosophy to the classroom.

*de Haan, Chris, MacColl, San and McCutcheon, Lucy. Philosophy With Kids Books I, 2 & 3 and Philosophy With Kids: More Ideas and Activities (Melbourne: Longman House, 1995). This series consists of four practical teacher resource books. Books 1,2 and 3 are suited to Infants and Middle Primary classes and offer practical advice on how to begin the process of philosophical inquiry. They use numerous familiar children’s storybooks and poems, many of which are Australian, to stimulate discussion within a community of inquiry. The fourth book contains ideas and activities suitable for all infants and primary classes. This series is an abundant resource, which provides a valuable introduction to philosophy within the classroom.

*Golding, Clinton, Connecting Concepts (Melbourne: ACER Press, 2003). This book is a valuable classroom resource to use with students 12 years of age and above that contains detailed instructions for turning a class into a community of inquiry, exploring concepts like violence, the mind, culture knowledge and justice. Connecting Concepts includes discussion ideas and exercises suitable for whole class, group and individual activities using a wide variety of learning styles. Clear guidelines, examples and sample questions provide a step-by-step introduction to conceptual analysis in the classroom and blackline masters introduce concept games to students.

Jackson, Thomas F. arid Oho, Linda. (Draft) Getting Started in Philosophy: A Start Up Kit for K-I(1993). This kit aims to provide Kindergarten and Year 1 students with a firm foundation in the skills requisite to participation in the Communitv of Inquiry. It consists of a good introductory set of activities for the philosophy classroom and is available from the Philosophy in Schools Association of NSW contact@philosophyinschoolsnsw.org

Parker, Michael, The Quest for the Stone of Wisdom (Sydney: Scholastic, 1996) This book and accompanying teacher’s guide is an introduction to philosophical ideas and concepts using critical and creative thinking techniques. It is designed for upper primary and lower secondary students and has a comic based format that appeals to adolescents and pre-adolescents. The books include lots of practical exercises and activities designed to enhance conceptual exploration and are available from Scholastic Australia (Customer Service: Email:customer_service@scholastic.com.au)

Sprod, Tim. Books Into Ideas (Cheltenham, Vic.: Hawker Browniow Education, 1993. This book begins with a short, practical discussion of the methodology of Philosophy in Schools. It deals with particular children’s picture books, presenting discussion plans and activities based on these books, which demonstrate how teachers can facilitate and encourage thinking in young learners. Included among the stories are The Bun yip of Berkeley’s Creek, Bill and Pete, Wombats, Where The Wild Things Are, and A Pet for Mrs. Arbuckle. This book is a particularly valuable resource for the K-2 classroom and is available from Hawker Brownlow Education, 1123A Nepean Hwy. Highett, VIC. 3190 (Telephone in Sydney 02 634 6969 or Toll free to place orders direct 008 33 4603).Wilks, Susan F. Critical & Creative Thinking: Strategies for Classroom Inquiry (Armadale, VIC.: Eleanor Curtain Publishing, 1995). This is an accessible and practical text, which provides units of work on philosophical issues found in everyday literature. It includes fables e.g. The Boy Who Cried Wolf and Jack and the Beanstalk, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and a story by Roald Dahl. It also provides checklists to help in monitoring progress, reviewing teaching styles and includes a special focus on ESL.

The Institute For The Advancement Of Philosophy For Children at Montclair State University, New Jersey, U.S.A. also produces a range of programs designed for use in the philosophy classroom. These programs are presented in the form of children’s novels which are each accompanied by a teacher’s manual and are available from the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), Private Bag 55, Camberwell, VIC. 3124. The Philosophy in Schools Association of New South Wales has in general tended to prefer the use of materials including Australian content within the classroom, however a number of the IAPC materials are highly regarded by members. The IAPC teacher’s manuals help guide philosophical exploration and provide hundreds of pages of suggestions, discussion plans, exercises, and activities to aid teachers.

Reference Material

Cam, Philip. Thinking Together: Philosophical Inquiry For The Classroom (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger/PETA, 1995). Thinking Together shows how story- based material can be used to help children raise and consider philosophical puzzles and problems so as to develop thinking skills and concepts, which are applicable across the curriculum. It discusses how a community of inquiry is built, how to encourage discussion, the use of questioning techniques and includes many activities designed to develop the tools of effective thinking. This book provides invaluable practical advice to teachers in guiding philosophical discussion.

Haynes, Joanna, Children as Philosophers (London: Routledge, 2002). This book explores theoretical and practical issues associated with using philosophy in the classroom. It provides examples of children working as philosophers from a young age and provides lots of practical suggestions for teachers.

Lipman, Matthew, Sharp Ann M., and Oscanyan, Frederick S., Philosophy in the Classroom (2nd. edition, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980). This textbook assumes that education is a matter of teaching ways of thinking. It demonstrates how the classroom can be converted into a community of inquiry and discusses the skills requisite to this process. It includes an excellent chapter on guiding philosophical discussion.

Matthews, Gareth, Philosophy and the Young Child (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980). Matthews begins with a series of anecdotes which give a good sense of children’s philosophical thinking, focusing on topics such as puzzlement, ‘fantasy’, ‘play’ and ‘dialogue. It is a delightful hook, enjoyable and easy to read and is particularly suited for K2.

Matthews, Gareth, Dialogues with Children (Cambridge, vIass.: Harvard University Press, 1984). This book is a record of Matthews’ experiences with a class in Scotland. It deals with topics such as ‘happiness’, ‘desire’, ‘cheese’ and ‘time travel’ and provides insight into philosophical dialogue with children.

Reed, Ronald F., Talking with Children (Denver, Colorado: Arden Press, 1983). This book deals with the art and role of conversation with children, discussing and demystifying children’s conversation with parents, in groups and at school.

Splitter, Laurance J. and Sharp, Ann M. Teaching for Better Thinking: The Classroom Community of Inquiry (Melbourne: Australian Council For Educational Research, 1995). This book deals with the Community of Inquiry, dialogue, questioning techniques, the relationship between thinking, philosophy and Philosophy for Children, and ethical enquiry in relation to the Personal Development curriculum. It is a lengthy but valuable text.

Ordering Classroom Materials

Texts marked with a single asterisk can be purchased from ACER Press Customer Service, Private Bag 55, Camberwell, VIC. 3124. (Tel: 1800 338 402 (Toll Free); + 61 3 9835 7447; Fax: + 61 3 9835 7499; Email: sales@acer.edu.au )

Loan resources for teachers – members only

Journals
Thinking. The Journal of Philosophy For Children (Montclair State University, New Jersey, U.S.A.)

Analytic Teaching. Community of Inquiry Journal (Viterbo College, La Crosse, Wisconsin, U.S.A.)

Studies In Philosophy And Education (Kluvfr Academic Publishers, Netherlands). Volume 13, contains 20 good, brief and practical articles on Philosophy in Schools by North American scholars in Education.

Books

Two volumes, entitled The Philosophy of John Dewey and The Structure of Experience edited by John J. McDermott (New York: G.P.Putnam & Sons) might also be useful in that they call attention to a view of the child as an active and curious explorer and to education as a process which is sensitive to this active dimension, seeking to guide children – through their participation in a variety of experiences – in such a way that their creativity and autonomy are developed and enhanced. Similarly, Dewey’s book, My Pedagogic Creed (New York, 1897) would also be worthwhile reading in the context of the philosophy classroom.

Publications available for purchase

A range of Australian published materials available for purchase
ACER PRESS: The Australian Centre for Educational Research Press is the principal distributor of philosophy in schools material in Australia.