Inside my Philosopher's Backpack, are six pieces of kit that each serve as metaphors for different questions. My action research project showed how the questions were more easily remembered when linked to metaphors. This was particularly
helpful for practitioners who were new to Philosophy for Children.
Torch: Which concepts are illuminated by the stimulus? (Illuminate - shine a light)
Magnifying glass: Can we think in more detail about the concept? (Looking closer)
What are the alternative ideas and opinions? (perspectives and opnions)
Rope: Do you agree or disagree? (connections, drawing distinctions)
Global ball: Would everyone think this? (universality)
Compass: Is the
direction of our question moving us forward in our thinking? (navigating nad directionality)
Once students and teachers are familiar with these six starting metaphors, the idea is they use their creative and critical thinking to come up with their
own kit that could go in the backpack and serve as metaphors for questions. Using their own imagination should help them to better internalise a greater array of probing questions, developing their questioning naturally without having to recall certain questions
Examples of other objects I've since added to my Philosopher's Backpack (sometimes suggested by participants or students)
Mirror - What do I think about my own thinking? (self-reflection, metacognition)
Mobile phone - Can
someone build on my idea? (collaboration)
Whistle - Do we need to stop/move on with the discussion? (moving on)
Packed lunch - What are the nourishing ideas? (nourishment)
My action research also found the metaphors were useful as
a tool for reflection and review of philosophical inquiry, fostering metacognition. It also found that increased use of metaphors resulted in children more frequently using metaphors to help them creatively explain complex ideas. Most importantly to
me, my research showed me the power of introducing the Philosopher's Backpack as a story.
Thank you for taking the to read the story here. Who knows? Maybe you might start thinking about your own thoughtful questions when you are next in
You can read my full action research below.