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This text is by Alyson Jones in her capacity and does not, necessarily, reflect the views of different infinite mile contributors, infinite mile co-founders, the author's employer and/or other author affiliations.  

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Thinking up a Better Future for Detroit's Children

Alyson Jones

searching for Telos

“But you don’t prove anything at all when you say its something you just can’t imagine happening.”

--- Matthew Lipman, Harry Stottlemeir’s Discovery: Reasoning About Reasoning

Detroit Schools are often in the news and reported as struggling to educate the children of Detroit.  In the Fall of 2013, CBS reports the findings of the organization; Excellent Schools Detroit.  Mr. Varner reported that out of the 204 public, charter, private, and parochial schools serving Detroit students, only 25% are adequately educating the students that they serve.

Detroit Schools are doing their very best to meet the expectations of the state and re-design the educational offerings to meet the desired outcomes.  I strongly agree with Diane Ravitich, Research Professor of Education at New York University when she says that, “Public Education is broken.  It is not failing or declining.”   Public Education needs plenty of reform all over the country to restore its original intent to the American people.

When we ask ourselves what is the purpose of school, we tend to only focus on learning for the economic purpose of job preparation.  When we think broader about school, we think of its purpose of growing democracy through citizenship, education and the social and moral responsibility that is often the result of schooling.

Students in school need more than Reading and Mathematics instruction.  If school only focuses on Reading and Mathematics for assessment purposes, the student misses out on becoming a more democratic and socially sound citizen.  What can be done when the educational menu is not meeting all the needs of the students?

In the early 1960’s, Matthew Lipman was disappointed with the lack of critical thinking in the classroom.  Lipman set out to create a Philosophy for Children curriculum that would help to strengthen judgments and promote thinking for oneself.  Matthew Lipman asserted in his book Philosophy Goes to School that, “every subject is easier learned when one is equipped with the tools of critical thinking skills and logic rigor.”  The movement he started finds itself looking to grow thinking and enhance learning in the United States and in other countries.

figure 2
Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead
Mike Kelley
Mobile Homestead, 2013 -
4454 Woodward Ave 
Detroit, MI 48201 
phone: 313-832-4944

Philosophy for Children may not heal the broken educational system, but it will give tools to students to use their minds to navigate thoughtfully though their educational experience.  Detroit area children can join the Philosophy for Children movement.  Searching for Telos starts again in February and offeres a winter schedule of six Saturday Philosophical Inquiry sessions for children 5-14 years old at the wonderfully whimsical Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead (fig. 2).  For more information please contact the Searching for Telos by email at searching4telos@gmail.com or follow on Twitter @searching4telos.

works cited

Dewey, John.  Experience and education.  New York: Simon and Schuster.  1938

Lipman, Matthew.  Harry Stottlemeier’s  Discovery: Reasoning About Reasoning. Montclair State University: New Jersey.  1982.

Lipman, Matthew.  Philosophy Goes to School.  Temple University Press: PA.  1988.

Ravitch, Diane.  Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Pubic Schools. Alfred A. Knopf: New York.  2013.

Stemler, Steven E. & Damian Bell. “What is the Purpose of School?”  Philosophical Perspectives.  Jan 2012.  http://www.purposeofschool.com/philosophical/

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link - issue 03: February 2014