Graeme Tiffany, Independent Education Consultant
Philosophy for Children (P4C) has been around for some time. Philosophy for Communities is newer and rarer. Rarer still are attempts to use philosophy to support community development and inform social action, to work in ways respectful of the philosophical underpinnings of informal rather than formal education. Community Philosophy aims to do this. It is found to have value in several respects. It can act as a research tool; for example, in helping youth workers to understand young people’s social reality – through their eyes. It helps community-based practitioners bear witness to these realities, which is something that can trouble service providers and policy makers but a form of knowledge they can rarely do without. Interventions become better informed and the gap between the world as experienced by people and that imagined by political actors is narrowed; Community Philosophy can go a long way to informing those elusive ‘evidence-based policies’.
Community Philosophy is theory in practice. It is conversational and yet emphasises thinking and inquiring; it is collaborative and enables a more reasonable analysis of controversial issues – issues that so often create conflict and, implicitly, make cross-community consensus and action all the more difficult to catalyse. It lends itself then to fostering community cohesion, especially where the generations have become alienated from one another. Its democratic nature breaks the mould of representative and often adversarial politics. It offers a new paradigm of decision-making where each can represent their own views but within a culture where listening, questioning and changing one’s mind is valued. Its critical nature makes it suited to the very necessary values and concepts analysis that is often assumed but lacking.
To find out more about Community Philosophy and Community Philosophy facilitator training courses go to: www.graemetiffany.co.uk