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1 Presentation at VAPS Conference PHILOSOPHY A SCHOOL OF FREEDOM Teaching Philosophy and learning to PhilosophizeUNESCO 1953 to 2011Janette PoultonPresentation at VAPS ConferenceJune 5th 2011
2 “There can be no UNESCO without philosophy” There has always been closely linked to philosophy, not speculative or normative philosophy, but critical questioning which enables it to give meaning to life and action in the international context. UNESCO was born from a questioning process on the possibility of and necessary conditions for the establishment of long-term peace and security in the world. It is therefore an institutional response to a philosophical question, one that had already been asked by the Abbé de Saint-Pierre and Emmanuel Kant. And, one could also declare that it is a philosophical institution, since it intends to contribute to maintaining peace and security by heightening collaboration between nations through education, science and culture in order to ensure the universal respect of justice, of the law, of human rights and fundamental liberties for all, regardless of race, gender, language or religion, that is recognized for all people in the Charter of the United Nations. This end goal involves the recognition and implementation of a certain philosophy of law, of human rights and of universal history through means that are also philosophical. But it is better to say that UNESCO does not have a philosophy in the literal sense of the word since it wants to be a privileged place for exchange and dialogue on the pluralism of experiences of thought and of world cultures La philosophie saisie par l’UNESCO.It deserves credit for strengthening our commitment to revitalizing this tradition and to contributing, by all possible means, to popularize an international philosophical culture.On this path, the “philosophical detour” – expression borrowed from Jeanne Hersch in her famous study on human rights from a philosophical point of view, undertaken at the request of UNESCO – is called for every day, and today more than ever.
3 1953The first study of teaching philosophy throughout the world was conducted by UNESCO and published in The study emphasized “the role of philosophy in becoming aware of the fundamental problems of science and culture and in the emergence of well-argued reflection on the future of the human condition.”
4 1995 Paris Declaration for Philosophy The importance of philosophy was re-affirmed in February 1995, when philosophers gathered in Paris to adopt a Paris Declaration for philosophy.It was stated that all individuals everywhere should be entitled to engage in the free pursuit of philosophy, and that the teaching of philosophy should be maintained or expanded where it exists, and introduced where it does not yet existMoreover, it was stated that the knowledge of philosophical insight in different cultures and their comparison, as well as the analysis of their commonalities and differences, should be supported.
5 1998In 1998, an expert meeting organized at UNESCO on philosophy for children recommended that “networks [are created] between countries to promote philosophy for children and share experiences.” Conclusions of the meeting on Philosophy for children, meeting of experts, March 1998, pIdentify Networks
6 2004-5"Inter-regional Philosophical Dialogue" A project which was included in the philosophy program of UNESCO, within the Sector of Social and Human Sciences, was launched during the biennium Through this project, UNESCO will be a meeting point where dynamic networks between two regions concerned are formed. It aims to offer philosophers from these two regions a space for dialogue and exchange, where the various aspects of their respective philosophical traditions are at the heart of the debate, both for the study and philosophical analysis and for the understanding of contemporary issues. Israel and Palestine. Africa and Americas. Arab and Asia.
7 2005 UNESCO advocates the teaching of philosophy “By developing the intellectual tools to analyze and understand key concepts such as justice, dignity and freedom, by building capacities for independent thought and judgment, by enhancing the critical skills to understand and question the world and its challenges, and by fostering reflection on values and principles, philosophy is a “‘school of freedom’”. UNESCO’s Intersectoral Strategy on Philosophy (2005)
8 April 2005In April 2005 the Executive Board of UNESCO adopted UNESCO’s Intersectoral Strategy on Philosophy. Since 2005, UNESCO has supported the annual organization of the symposium on the New Philosophical Practices, which aims at sharing information on existing initiatives and on research outcomes in the field of philosophy with children in France, and French-speaking countries such as Belgium, Quebec (Canada) and Switzerland. Currently, these symposia are organized in the framework of UNESCO’s cooperation with PHILOLAB association, and have set up thematic working groups, addressing the issues of introducing philosophy with children in school curricula and setting up teacher training in this field.
9 World Philosophy Day“The proclamation of a World Philosophy Day by the UNESCO General Conference was an important impetus in favor of the promotion of philosophy and its teaching. A day, that is the unit of time devoted to debates in which each and every person should feel free to participate according to his or her convictions. Many places, that is our unit of space, because our common goal is also to enhance arguments and counterarguments not only in one agora but in all the parts of this big house that we invite you to come and discover every year. Finally, a unity of action, of common action, to reaffirm the true value of philosophy, that is to say the establishment of dialogue that must never cease when it comes to essential matters, and of thought which gives us back a large part of human dignity whatever our condition.” Moufida Goucha, Chief of the Human Security, Democracy, and Philosophical Section The THIRD THURSDAY IN NOVEMBER
10 2007UNESCO published a report on the state of the teaching of philosophy in the world titled ‘Philosophy: a school of freedom’.
11 2007 International Network of Women Philosophers Launched in 2007, the International Network of Women Philosophers currently includes more than 1,300 members from all the regions of the world. Their fields of activities reflect the great variety of disciplines that involve philosophy.
12 2009 International Network of Women Philosophers The First Assembly of the International Network of Women Philosophers sponsored by UNESCO took place at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris (France) on 14 and 15 December 2009.The Assembly brought together more than 80 women philosophers from Africa, the Arab region, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America and Latin America and the Caribbean.Pierre Sané, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, officially opened the Assembly.The conclusions of the meeting are now available at
13 2009 Regional High-Level Meetings Because philosophy teaching and its challenges vary from region to region, UNESCO launched in 2009 a series of Regional High-Level Meetings on the Teaching of Philosophy, in partnership with Member States and academic stakeholders. The objective was two-fold: to discuss the state of the teaching of philosophy in the different countries of the region as well as its challenges; to formulate recommendations for the attention of relevant actors, and more particularly for the public authorities responsible for education, so as to introduce philosophy in the curricula where it does not exist and reinforce and improve it where it does.
14 2011“The last in the series of Regional High-Level Meetings will focus the state of philosophy teaching and its challenges for Europe and North America, and will be organized in Milan (Italy), from 14 to 16 February 2011.”
15 February 2011A meeting was held between the President of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO, the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, various experts, senior government representatives and philosophy for and with children to discuss future developments including both “the place given to philosophy for adolescents” and international “standardization” of practices.
16 2011 International Network ICPIC, in cooperation with PHILOLAB and Sophia launched a proposal for an International Network for Development and Support of Philosophy with Children at this meeting“ICPIC demands the adoption of a Declaration for Philosophy for Children for the following reasons: To establish guiding principles of universal value, which supplement the appeal for an open international network. This means a declaration that is developed and supported by ICPIC and UNESCO.Philosophy for children is a vague concept. This Declaration is specific. It focuses on a set of principles to be used as guidance to decisions and practices. With the support of UNESCO, ICPIC will develop a precollege philosophy core curriculum based on these three fields of education, that shows sensitivity to local needs like the experiences of being human in a social, cultural and personal context, while acknowledging the human condition as the irreducible part of humanity.
17 July 2011At the pending ICPIC Conference in Korea we will discuss UNESCO Jinju Declaration for Philosophy with Children to implement these developments.
18 UNESCO Jinju Declaration ProposalAn International Network of Philosophy with Children Practices can be created with UNESCO’s support, in order to unite existing synergies in this field. The initial and founding tool of the Network will be a website hosted on UNESCO’s webpage (following the model of the International Network of Women Philosophers’ website). The purpose of such a Network will be to disseminate and promote the advancement of different practices of philosophy with children (PwC) by:
19 Networking and communicating Liaise with universities, research centres and institutes, individual teachers and practitioners, youth associations, UNESCO Clubs, etc. in order to get information on research outcomes and existing practices in PwC in the world ;Identifying at least one focal point in the different countries where there is an interest for PwC, in order to ensure communication of information from the local and national to the international level;A Journal of the Network can be launched on a biannual basis, which will publicize all relevant information and articles on PwC initiatives;in order to gather information on existing practices and research concerning PwC / P4C around the world;
20 Making resources free and available online Assembling information on research outcomes and make it available online for free access;Making available and for free access online the existing pedagogical guides and teaching materials from the different countries, in different languages. On the long run, a system of distance learning could be envisaged;Make available and for free access online advocacy toolkits, including videos, for practitioners to approach and sensitize the national education authorities and potential donors, as well as the general public;
21 Fostering cooperation Encouraging links and cooperation between practitioners and teachers from different cultural backgrounds in creating teaching resources that are adapted to cultural diversity and specificity.