‘We Are Inventions’. Discuss.

This week, a provocative starting point for an inquiry on the theme of inventions.
As a warm-up, you might ask what these things have in common:
A clothes peg
A wheel
A computer
A gun
The answer being that they are all inventions.
Follow that up by displaying this statement.
We are inventions.
After some paired talk to see what people’s reactions and reasons are, continue the enquiry. Avenues that might be explored are:
  • 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).
The Power of Statements
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.
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.
Best wishes,

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