DemoCrit: democracy, critical thinking & philosophy

The current main research project of Tuukka Tomperi is ”DemoCrit: modelling deliberative democratic dialogue and critical-reflective thinking through the practices of philosophical inquiry with children and young people”. The project is funded by Kone Foundation.

Critical thinking and rational democratic dialogue need and mutually reinforce each other. Together, they play a crucial role in dealing with current key issues in modern society, such as media literacy, intellectual self-defense, worldview construction, political deliberation, understanding and encountering diversity, reconciling different interests, engaging in cross-cultural dialogue, and seeking common ethical principles.

The research project DemoCrit explores, both theoretically and practically, how the practices of communal philosophical inquiry could model and support critical-reflective thinking and deliberative democratic dialogue. Theoretically the approach is based on in particular the research traditions initiated by philosophers John Dewey and Matthew Lipman. The practical dimension is “the community of philosophical inquiry” – the practices of philosophizing with children and adolescents, the so called ”pedagogical philosophy”. The project combines theoretical research, meta-research (mapping past research and established pedagogical forms), the development and experimentation of practical approaches and materials, and empirical research that explores the effectiveness of different theoretical and practical approaches of philosophizing with children and adolescents.

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The term ”pedagogical philosophy” is in this context used to refer to philosophy that has been reconstructed for and applied in educational practice – practicing philosophy educationally. There are several different forms of practicing pedagogical philosophy, the best known of which is the philosophy for children (P4C) -curriculum that has been around for more than 40 years. Today the field is wide and varied, spread to many countries around the world, and no more restricted to the original P4C-tradition. I have been involved in researching and developing pedagogical philosophy since the late 1990’s.

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