Published on December 27, 2007
PHILOSOPHY FOR CHILDREN: A MODEL FOR A BIOETHICS COMMUNITY OF INQUIRY: PHILOSOPHY FOR CHILDREN: A MODEL FOR A BIOETHICS COMMUNITY OF INQUIRY Leonardo D. de Castro, Ph.D. Professor of Philosophy, University of the Philippines Vice Chair, UNESCO International Bioethics Committee Secretary, International Association of Bioethics Bioethics: a democratic approach to education : Bioethics: a democratic approach to education Not merely informative Forum for community debate and discussion Facilitate a social process of ‘reflective conversation’ By which a community discovers and continually evaluates developments in society Checks how developments fit with society’s core values Reflective Conversation: Reflective Conversation Why self-discovery and self-evaluation are extremely important: Contemporary questions about biotechnology are actually questions about who we are what we want to make of ourselves THIS PRESENTATION:: THIS PRESENTATION: “Community of inquiry” as a model for bioethics learning. Central features of philosophy for children A short narrative on Xenotransplantation Lessons that bioethics education can learn from philosophy for children I. Philosophy for Children: I. Philosophy for Children Challenge:: Challenge: Do these observations apply to bioethics? not only for children but also for adults? Natural curiosity develops inquiry: Natural curiosity develops inquiry A philosophical community of inquiry exploits children’s natural curiosity to raise questions and issues. Differences among the participants enrich the process of learning: Differences among the participants enrich the process of learning Learning is different for each individual child. “The ideal philosophical community is one in which . . . differences . . . serve to enrich the inquiry [rather than to divide the participants].” (Lone, 2001) The teacher does not direct students: The teacher does not direct students Each child contributes something essential to the classroom. All children have unique ideas and interests that motivate them to seek answers to their questions. The role of the teacher is to guide students in this process, not to direct them. She does not seek to control the conclusion. The capacity to change one's mind: The capacity to change one's mind Criticizing one's own views and changing one's mind is a natural part of the process of philosophical thinking. Education enables children to think for themselves: Education enables children to think for themselves "Anything that helps us to discover meaning in life is educational, and the schools are educational only insofar as they do facilitate such discovery" (Lipman, Sharp and Oscanyan,1980) Community of Inquiry: Community of Inquiry Thinking for oneself is a central aim of philosophy for children. Children should recreate the society in which they live as they grow up in a critical, careful and creative way. Community of Inquiry -- Features:: Community of Inquiry -- Features: An agenda determined by students Free exchange of ideas Atmosphere of openness Participants’ ownership of discussion Relevance to life Question finding Teacher as participant and learner. (G. Smith 1999) A genuine community of inquiry is based on:: A genuine community of inquiry is based on: Mutual respect The members’ volunteer commitment to search for something in common. Guiding Principle: The process, rather than the product: Guiding Principle: The process, rather than the product In the community of inquiry emphasis the discussion process not a particular conclusion Learning as Discovery and Invention: Learning as Discovery and Invention To learn something is to learn it again with the same discovery spirit that was experienced when it was discovered, or with the same spirit of invention that prevailed when it was invented. II. XENOTRANSPLANTATION: The story of Jerry and Bibi: II. XENOTRANSPLANTATION: The story of Jerry and Bibi A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative Jerry and Bibi were in the waiting room at the clinic of one of the best transplant doctors in the country. A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative Jerry was a sickly 12-year-old boy Bibi was Jerry’s pet pig Jerry’s kidneys were failing. He needed a transplant. A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative Inside the clinic, Doctor Snow examined Jerry. He explained that there was a long list of people who needed organs It would take a lot of time before Jerry could have a transplanted kidney. Dr. Snow with Bibi A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative Bibi: “How could that happen? Are there not enough good people? Why can’t a person give a kidney to someone who is dying?” Dr. Snow : “It’s not as simple as that. One has to take risks in giving a kidney. One has to go through an operation.” A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative Bibi: “I’m not afraid! I’ll give Jerry one of my kidneys.” Dr. Snow: “Are you kidding?” Bibi: “I’m serious! I’ll do anything for my dear friend.” A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative Jerry: “But that’s not fair. Why do animals always have to suffer for human beings? Are you not going to die if you do that?” A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative Bibi: “Isn’t that what animals are supposed to do? Isn’t it our responsibility to support the needs of human beings?” Jerry: “But you are my friend! You’re my best friend! We are equally valuable! You should not think of yourself merely as a tool to make me live long or live happily.” A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative Dr. Snow was concerned about other things: “Let’s not decide so quickly. I am not sure that Jerry can use one of your kidneys, Bibi. People and pigs do not necessarily match.” Bibi: “What do you mean?” Dr. Snow: “Pig kidneys are different from human kidneys. Pig kidneys will not work inside human bodies. Pigs and humans are made differently.” A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative Bibi inquired: “Is it because we have different genes? I read somewhere that differences in the genes inside our bodies make pigs different from other animals.” Dr. Snow: “That’s right.” Bibi was insistent: “Can’t you do something about my genes in order to make my kidney work inside Jerry’s body? Dr. Snow: “Well, some clinics have been studying how to do that but they have not been successful.” A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative Bibi thought aloud: “That’s too bad. Scientists must work harder.” Dr. Snow explained: “On the other hand, some people think scientists should not move too fast.” Bibi: “Do they think my kidney is the wrong one for Jerry? Are they afraid Jerry is going to turn into a pig? Dr. Snow: “No, but some think we should not mix our genes because genes are part of God’s design for His creation. We have to respect what God wants.” A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative Bibi: “I can’t understand that. If we want to avoid people dying of kidney diseases, scientists must move even faster. Surely, God wants to save lives. Lives are more important than genes, are they not? There must be a way to help my best friend.” Dr. Snow: “I can assure you that we are doing what we can to help Jerry but don’t you agree that we have to consider also what other people think?” A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative Bibi: “That may be so. But it just does not seem fair that my best friend is dying and I cannot do what I think is right in order to keep him alive. There must be something wrong when that’s happening. Don’t you think so?” A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative Bibi was full of questions in his head: “It also does not seem fair that we are the best of friends but I cannot give Jerry the only gift that can save his life. I wonder what other people think. What do you think, Dr. Snow?” A xenotransplantation narrative: A xenotransplantation narrative What do you think? III. Bioethics for Children: III. Bioethics for Children Curiosity and bioethical inquiry: Curiosity and bioethical inquiry Natural curiosity develops bioethical inquiry. Education has to explore that natural curiosity in order to raise questions and issues that are important to the individual and to the whole community. Respecting difference: Respecting difference Bioethics learning is different for each individual. It differs on account of one’s cultural and religious background, one’s upbringing, and a lot of other things. Difference is not something to be despised. On the contrary, difference enriches the totality of our humanity. Difference ought to be encouraged. Learning through the lenses of one’s own experiences: Learning through the lenses of one’s own experiences People – whether children or adults – realize what things are important through their own experiences. This is how things come to have meaning for them. Lessons must be drawn from each person’s own experiences. Thinking for oneself: Thinking for oneself Thinking for oneself is a central aim of bioethics education. Technology is going to advance even faster than it has done in the last few years. Similarly the world is going to change faster. The best way to get people ready for these changes is to make sure that they learn to think for themselves.