Forming Philosophical Communities of Inquiry in Early Childhood Classrooms

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A community of inquiry (Cl) describes any group of people who communicate together regularly, whose common project is to make a critical and/or creative inquiry into a field or discipline. Cl theory understands knowledge as communally constructed and emergent, proceeding through the interaction of critical and creative thinking. Philosophical Cl is a controlled, communal form of wondering which focuses on the larger meaning of human experience, and a continual, logical dialectical process of exploring the conditions of knowledge. Using familiar stories as texts, and facilitated by a leader who is sensitive both to the philosophical preoccupations of young children and to their ways of thinking and talking, young children are both interested and capable, at their level, of philosophical Cl. Beyond its philosophical implications, the process of group dialogue is a training ground for the skills and dispositions associated with the autonomous, democratic personality.



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