PHILOSOPHICAL PRACTICE IN EDUCATION, a concept the emergence of which is associated with dissatisfaction with the traditional system of education and the search for new strategies that have been growing since the mid-20th century, as with the strengthening of democracies school systems did not become places of cultural development and training for active citizenship, but submitted to another power: economic and technocratic (M. Lipman). These processes are caused by civilizational discontinuities: between the orientation of education on the assimilation of as much knowledge as possible and the increase in the information that appears; between “supporting” education intended for relative stability of the situation, and the rapidly changing and increasingly complex social world; between setting for professionalization, narrow specialization and the need for a holistic systemic vision of the world; finally, between the cultural and national specifics of education and the need for modern technological development in uniform educational standards. Therefore, the solution of many global problems at the level of UNESCO, the Club of Rome, and various international organizations is directly connected to elimination of civilizational gaps and preparation of “a new type of a subject of education.”

Philosophical Practice at South Ural State University


In search of solutions to this problem, the key concepts in innovative education projects (both school and university) have become the notion of “thinking” and the associated series of such concepts as “critical thinking”, “reflexive education”, “learning as research”, “interactive learning”, “Socratic method of teaching”, etc. The emphasis in them was shifted from mastering the amount of knowledge by the students to the quality of their ability to reason and gaining the skills of independent thinking. Their common goal is to give the intellect a greater plasticity in resolving unusual problem situations the number of which increases in the 21st century, and also initiate a combination of intellectual and moral literacy and responsibility.

In this regard, the most convincing is M. Lipman’s theoretical, pedagogical and philosophical concept “learning to reduce violence”. This position is based on two prerequisites: first, belief in a person’s reasonableness; second, beliefs that education, if it becomes reflexive-research (which it is not as of yet), will be able to significantly reduce unreason, violence and develop peaceful attitude.

Another important aspect of the rethinking of modern education is related to the fact that at the beginning of the 21st century a transition to a media reality takes place, in which people become only fragments of this reality, impersonal subjects of communication (V. Savchuk). The new reality can now be described as “everything is media”, “media inside us” and “media perceives us”, so that “current children – future adults” are in the “blind zone” of the all-absorbing thinking virtualization (J. Baudrillard).

Strictly speaking, under the conditions of the current changes, not only new foundations of education are laid, but also new foundations of philosophy itself, and ways of philosophizing, such as, in particular, philosophical practice. Having originated as an intellectual movement from the situation and the idea of dissatisfaction with modern higher education and as a result of distancing from it, philosophical practice now has a resource that can help modern education, and which can be proposed as a “paradigm of educational reform” (M. Lipman).

One of the most important ideas that philosophical practice brings to education is the deep and rich ancient idea of care of the self. The practice of caring of the self can be fulfilled both in academic and in non-academic formats. It is in modern education, in conditions of mediareality, that care of the self acquires special significance, since it “implies the abandonment of some of the more profitable activities, for example, waging war or performing public duties that are not at all connected with seeking and gaining integrity” (M. Foucault).

Fulfillment of such care of the self in conditions of accelerated, impersonal and standardized formats of modern life, culture and education exacerbates the problem of the authenticity of teacher (professor) of philosophy. It is obvious that only individual self-reflection, only one’s own practice of care of the self, and, as its result, self-transformation of the philosopher as teacher can become the basis for effective care of the self. Due to such guideline, education can be transformed from informative into transcending, which is extremely demanded in the context of media education surplus. “Non-verbalized philosophical procedures”, background and performative methods offered by philosophical practitioners are turning to be effective.

Philosophical practice in education in all its diversity (philosophical counseling, Socratic dialogue, philosophical cafes, philosophy for children) is based on observing the following principles: thematic democracy implying strong anti-segregation, anti-elite implication, which challenges all hierarchical, elitist and expert in academic philosophy; dialogue democracy, which takes participants beyond the bounds of a strictly defined expert culture, and offers broad communication; a space of opportunity aimed at helping, inspiring, informing, lighting, enriching, deepening and enlightening people (E. Saarinen, S. Slotte).

In general, the current state of affairs in higher education already clearly indicates that the establishment of a competent, competitive and successful person does not solve so many problems of modern human. Many researchers believe that the need for anthropocosmic (holistic, ecological) paradigm, humanization and humanitarization of education in the context of a new socio-political and economic reality, connected with the conditions of globalization, is now drawn to a head. Therefore, at the center of such education is a person who is not only knowledgeable, but also understands, is capable of self-projecting and self-education. To fulfill this goal, the potential of philosophical practice as a care of the self is the most adequate to the goals that a new education sets for itself.

Elena Grednovskaya


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