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‘We Are Inventions’. Discuss.

This week, a provocative starting point for an inquiry on the theme of inventions.
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As a warm-up, you might ask what these things have in common:
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A clothes peg
A wheel
A computer
A gun
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The answer being that they are all inventions.
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Follow that up by displaying this statement.
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We are inventions.
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After some paired talk to see what people’s reactions and reasons are, continue the enquiry. Avenues that might be explored are:
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  • Are we God’s invention?
  • Are invention and evolution opposites?
  • Are all inventions man-made?
  • How man-made are we?
  • What aspects of ourselves do we invent?
  • How far are human beings natural, and how far have we invented ourselves?
  • How much of us have our parents invented? What if a parent wanted their child to be a great tennis player, or pianist, and raised them accordingly? (Venus and Serena Williams, Judith Polgar or, in history, philosopher John Stuart Mill are interesting case studies for this).
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The Power of Statements
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I’m grateful to Nicodem from Marshlands Primary school for coming up with this powerful statement at the start of an enquiry where I’d intended to use Artificial Intelligence as a stimulus for discussing the ethics of inventing.
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A provocative statement can be just as good a starting point for a discussion as a question. There’s something about a statement that invites pushback, especially if it controversial. ‘Putting into question’ is Idea 72 in Peter Worley’s new book, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Questioning which looks excellent.
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Best wishes,
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Jason

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