An introduction to philosophical ideas
Recently, I have been working on a school project focusing on robot representations in science fiction, a genre revolving around complex philosophical ideas and concepts like nature, free will, reality. Consequently, it was the philosophical orientation that made me choose this LS. The concept of “nature” surfaced as the one I wanted us to explore-on elementary level.
Before starting out, I adapted the LS to make it suitable for my students. I teach in a primary school in a rural area. Taking everything into consideration, I planned a more guided version of the scenario. A detailed description of the concept activity can be found in this presentation. Due to some epi-steam-ological and metacognitive aspects of the goal-setting, my intention was to follow a thinking process illustrating the common movements of Computational and Philosophical thinking (e.g. analysis, abstraction).
- I dropped the word nature and encouraged a brainstorming to detect what comes to our minds. When gotten stuck, I asked them to form a sentence containing the word or suggest thinking of an opposite. As expected, most references were about nature as our environment and green surroundings.
- Next, I split kids into groups and showed them some sentences and images conveying various uses of the word.
- Each group made a discussion on the material given.I encouraged kids to comment, share thoughts and pose questions.
- Groups presented their slides. Further discussion took place and meaning patterns were recognized.
Note: I pushed the questions towards a more specific direction, which covers points of our thematic unit. For example when we discussed if women’s ‘natural’ position is in home or in front of a mirror, I stretched it to the topic of women involvement in creating robots (gender gap in STEM careers) or modeling female humanoid robots…
- We expressed opinions on how nature can be dangerously used as a solid category for dogmas to be based on.
- We summed up our conclusions.
- Some concepts are polysemous and map not so clear-cut areas.
- Visual literacy helps us realize the impact of images.
- Sometimes this impact naturalize social constructions and the power relations they entail.
After all, talking about robots leads to talking about humans. Last but not least, not only did we explore the concept of nature but also the nature of a concept.
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