This week, a stimulus that raises some themes that might be of interest, and an argument game that I have found excellent for promoting engagement on Zoom. Also, continued by popular demand, we add new dates for the Zoom for P4C Teachers sessions, please check our online shop for the latest dates.

The Baboon on the Moon

This video stimulus was suggested by Jana Mohr Lone of www.philosophyforchildren.org

Click here to read Jana’s blog post about the film. Here are a few of her thoughts:

Since last spring, I have used the video “Baboon on the Moon” online many times, with students from fourth grade through adults. It is a lovely, mournful six-minute exploration of loneliness and isolation, the power of music, and the meaning of home. I show the film and then ask students the questions it makes them wonder about. Depending on numbers, I use breakout rooms to have students share their questions and discuss briefly in small groups, and each small group returns to the large group with one question they think would be interesting for us to explore together. In the large group, we then vote on which question(s) to discuss. It has provoked some very rich and thoughtful conversations. Questions people have posed after viewing the film include:

Is loneliness always a bad thing?
Can the moon be the baboon’s home even if the baboon wishes he were back on the earth?
Do we value things more when we lose them?
Can a place be your home if you don’t want to be there? 
Can music make you feel less isolated?
Does the baboon feel good about his job even though he is lonely?

Grudge Match

Back to Jason, this is a debating exercise I’ve developed this week in my classes. I present the class with a binary question (I’ve been enjoying, “Can you love a brick?”) and by a majority vote they decide which side they will argue, with me taking the opposing side – all versus one. We bat the question back and forth, and I model responding directly to their points as much as I can. 

Whatever the normal level of engagement, in every group I have tried this with, it has ratcheted up a few notches: they seem to really delight in it. Perhaps it’s the subversive allure of arguing back against the adult in the room, or the sociability of working in concert with all your peers. It’s also very pacy and easy to run. Debate isn’t enquiry but it can develop some of the skills needed.

Best wishes,

Jason

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