From collaboration to autonomy

“What the child can do in cooperation today, he can do alone tomorrow.”

– Lev Vygotsky (1934)


What do you know?

“I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.”

– Socrates

Needs and desires

How could we build a robot that’s just like a person? Some of the Little Philosophers thought we would need to program in needs and desires.

But another Little Philosopher disagreed. “Even humans don’t really have needs,” he said. “We only have desires. We don’t actually NEED to eat or sleep – we only have the feeling that we want to do those things. So they’re just desires.”

Illustration by Lisbeth Zwerger
Illustration by Lisbeth Zwerger

What is philosophy for?

“By emphasising clarity, rigour and logical analysis, philosophy teaches students the structure of good arguments, a valuable transferable skill… Philosophy students make good thinkers…

Philosophy … reveals the limitations of human knowledge and understanding. Such awareness helps students be wary of those who claim certainty and truth; it protects against dogmatic indoctrination and group-think. Philosophy celebrates the complex, nuanced nature of our understanding. It reminds us of what we do not know…

Why does religion play the role it does for people? Is economics scientific? Is voting sufficient participation in a democracy? Philosophy encourages the kind of open-mindedness needed for students to explore the many perspectives on such issues…

Just do it. Move fast and break things. YOLO. Creative Destruction. These are just some of the slogans of our techno-consumerist age; all encouraging us to act now, think later (which often means buy now, pay later).

The consumer society constantly attempts to remove time for reflection. Philosophical study is a counterbalance to this culture of fast action.”

Robert Grant

Being 11 years old

“As I filmed kids all over the world, I realized that 11 is a unique age in ways we don’t always appreciate. I discovered that 11-year-olds really are standing at a cusp, a year of transition when they no longer see themselves as little kids anymore (even though some adults still do). They’re old enough to form their own views of the world around them, and they have an independence and curiosity that’s really inspiring. At the same time, they don’t have the painful self-consciousness of teenagers, and are far less worried about the “image” they’re projecting. They don’t put up as many walls.

… I believe that too often we as a culture focus on what adults can teach children, without acknowledging what we can also learn from young people. This was yet another reason why I feel so compelled to share I AM ELEVEN. I see it as an opportunity to encourage audiences young and old to sit down together, to engage with these children, their ideas, their concerns, their hopes, and then to discuss and dissect what we see.

… Because I made the film [I AM ELEVEN] for anyone who has ever been 11, or will soon be, we cast the net very wide in attracting very diverse audiences. Many parents come see the film with their children, and it promotes insightful discussions among families, educators, students and those interested in a global perspective on our world.”

Genevieve Bailey.

Education in the modern age

“In the modern age, an education is not a certificate for a job-for-life. It is a chance to develop skills and ideas and a love for learning which will stay with students long after any particular skill or job has passed its use-by date. As students learn to grapple with deep and important ideas (and big questions over which we disagree), they will gain the confidence needed to navigate an uncertain and changing world.”
– Deputy Head of Philosophy (2011), University of Melbourne.