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P4C – Philosophy for Children

What is the most important thing to learn in life? Mathematics? Being an honest and good friend? To have a healthy economy?

In recent years, our Turkish department has focused on children, play, and learning. Through numerous projects involving theatre, visual arts, and music, they have tested, played, and exchanged thoughts, ideas, and dreams with Türkiye’s future generations.

In 2023, they delved into philosophy, incorporating the thoughts of Søren Kierkegaard and Grundtvig. With the pilot project “Philosophy for Children” (P4C), they, along with local partners in Istanbul, developed a workshop concept where children aged 7-12, based on Kierkegaard and Grundtvig’s ideas on education, were to develop their dream school.

“The children were good at thinking outside the box. They immersed themselves in the idea of a future school with purposes beyond classical education and skills – namely, focusing on what it means to be human and to put your knowledge into play in society. They were very concerned about honesty and being a good friend. They thought that should be on the school curriculum,” explains country direct Füsun Eriksen, who came up with the idea to involve the ideas of the old Danish philosophers in working with Turkish schoolchildren.

The project has particularly focused on both thinkers’ ideas of breaking free from rote learning and viewing education as a more holistic effort, where personal development is highly valued.

Therefore, poetry, philosophy, and participating in a community can be as valuable learning experiences as mathematics, physics, and spelling.

“The interest in Grundtvig and Kierkegaard is significant among our Turkish partners. They are curious about our folk high school thoughts and the idea of education as a more diverse effort. Therefore, we are working on further developing our philosophy workshops for more children in more places in the country,” explains Füsun and continues:

“The essence of philosophy is to ask questions rather than seek the ‘right’ answer. And here, children are masters. As a young girl pointed out during the workshop, isn’t it just as important to be brave, understand mathematics, be a good friend, cook, play sports, and listen to others?”

The “Philosophy for Children” workshop is part of our Attahygge.com project and has been developed in collaboration between IBB Mahalle Evleri, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, and Göçebe Düşünce Derneği.