2014-11-05 12:48:00

"Philosophy for Children" - a new word in the development of democracy

On October 13, 2014 at the Institute of Pedagogy of NAS of Ukraine a scientific seminar «Education for Democracy: P4C technique (Philosophy for Children)», which was attended by teachers from many regions of Ukraine was held. Headlining the event was Professor Dzhinvan Park from South Korea — one of the most consistent and staunch adherents of this technique, which teaches children democracy at the age when they still do not really understand the meaning of this term.

A scientist has just arrived from Iran and after Ukraine he flies immediately to Austria, where P4C technique is maintained at the state level. The presentation of the educational project with the participation of Professor of Kyonsan National University Dzhinvan Park became possible thanks to the support of the international Risk Reduction Foundation. «If we want to turn Ukraine into a country with a high standard of quality of life, competitiveness and innovation, the education and research should be a priority for public policy, and familiarization with international experience will help to implement the innovative approaches in learning. Educational process should be the most efficient use of time for young people, to prepare the young generation for the challenges of our time», said the head of the Risk Reduction Foundation Vladimir Kosterin.

Korean Dzhinvan Park is a modest man, at first sight he does not look like the world-famous celebrity, with professors, diplomats and academics seeking to attend his lectures. However, the list of his regalia in the sphere of pedagogy, to which he devoted most of his life, is quite eloquent: Ph. D., Professor, Head of the Department of Ethics of Kyonsan National University, Vice-President of the International Council of «Philosophy for Children» (2009–2011), the president of the international organization «Philosophy for Children in Asia and Oceania», President of the Korean Academy of teaching philosophy in school, a member of the international society «Philosophical education in Asia and Oceania on the development of democracy» (UNESCO). Attention of Professor Dzhinvan Park to Ukraine is not accidental, because now our country, in his opinion, is the global leader of world democratic processes.

«In recent years I have been following the developments in Ukraine very closely, and I was very surprised and shocked with the Maidan Revolution, the participants who fought for freedom and social justice. Their struggle can be called „participatory democracy“. Ukrainians have shown that democratic issues are very important to them», — said Professor Dzhinvan Park.

The professor also suggested that the worldview of the Ukrainians and Koreans is quite similar, in particular the spirit of the Maidan — a Ukrainian version of the Korean spirit Sanbi. In Korea, Sanbi spirit is a cult concept that has its roots in the mythology; this spirit is being taught since childhood and is followed by leading groups of society. Its main features are characteristics of a gentleman, the ability of leaders to sacrifice himself for the public good, and the presence of high moral qualities — confidence, caring about neighbors and respect.

Ukrainian Maidan with its spirit of self-sacrifice, fraternity and generosity, for the first time in many years, has shown that the Ukrainian nation is worthy to take a much higher place among the developed countries of the world, but not a place that it has today — thanks to its former immoral rulers. And for this to happen as soon as possible, according to Professor Dzhinvan Park, it is necessary to bring the spirit of the Maidan into Ukrainian education system.

Technique P4C that Korean professor promotes, has another worldwide name: «Philosophy for Children». Now this technique is actively promoted and implemented in more than 60 countries. If you do not delve into the pedagogical intricacies, its main features are studying, starting with elementary grades, of the dialogue, research, tolerance and mutual respect. Children in the classroom should not be some kind of experiment participants, but a full-fledged communities of researchers, cultivating a sense of belonging to a common cause, which is above the interests of any of them.

Already from these definitions it can be understood that the developed eastern states, especially South Korea and Japan, are paying a very close attention to the methodology of P4C. According to Dzhinvan Park, the P4C system was introduced in Korea 45 years ago, and only now its results are becoming visible for the Koreans. «Therefore, the Ukrainians should not expect to receive an immediate effect, perhaps, you have to wait 40–45 years, but even then the results will be real and will have a lot of weight», — said the professor.

According to the corresponding member of Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Ukraine, doctor of pedagogical sciences, professor, head of the laboratory of the social science education of the Institute of Pedagogy of NAPS of Ukraine Elena Pometun, elements of P4C technique have been actively implemented in Ukrainian schools, especially in high schools, in the late 90s and early 2000s. It was a time when Western educational methods were actively popularized in Ukraine within the framework of the global program of «democratic society». Laboratory of the social science education in particular has produced many publications and studies on this subject, has developed a special course «We are the citizens of Ukraine» within the framework of the joint Ukrainian-American project «Education for Democracy». Some higher education institutions were directly teaching according to P4C technique, in the first place — Luhansk University, but today its work is completely stopped because of well-known reasons.

«We taught high school students the basics of democracy, communication, conflict resolution, critical thinking. It is significant that the participants of Ukrainian Maidan were largely those high school students who have recently mastered the basic principles of the methodology P4C», — said Elena Pometun.

In her opinion, Ukraine, of course, can not jump in its development through the decades immediately to the developed democracy. However, Ukrainian society has made a big step towards its dignity — take a look at the level of volunteering during recent months on Maidan and in the area of ATO, which impressed both the Ukrainians and Western society. And this is certainly a reason to be proud of our country.

According to Ph. D., assistant professor of philosophy at the Institute of Philosophical Education and Science of National Pedagogical Dragomanov University Nadija Adamenko, today Ukrainian schoolchildren should be taught not only critical thinking, but also creative. «During the entrance examination there must be the percentage of scores for creative thinking».

Nadija Adamenko said that some of the Ukrainian specialists accuse P4C program in Americanism. She told the audience that Olga Sukhomlynska recalled that her father for some time corresponded with Matthew Lipman — founder of P4C technique and American innovator used many ideas of Ukrainian teacher Vasyl Sukhomlynski. «Therefore it is necessary to say that we all start from common values, common pedagogical foundations, and on the other hand, Lipman invented many universal principles that can be applied to examples of national and world culture», — said Nadija Adamenko.

At the end of the seminar Dzhinvan Park said that now many countries are in a real revolution in educational sphere, rapidly changing their curricula. And Ukraine should also think about this.

«I conduct a lot of workshops in many parts of the world, and I see that different states are investing a lot of money in the training of teachers. After all, no technique can teach a child to form a judgment, and good judgment is always equal to the art. Program P4c is focused on teaching thinking skills, and the ability to form judgments… Say, can Ukrainian statesmen achieve harmony with the ideas of separatists in the East of Ukraine? If you are educated and have a clear judgment, the chances of finding a common language with them are high!» — Said Dzhinvan Park.