A posthuman reconfiguring of philosophy with children in a government primary school in South Africa

Doctoral Thesis


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This thesis reconfigures Philosophy with Children and its community of philosophical enquiry pedagogy through posthumanist theories and practices. Philosophy with Children is an emerging movement in South Africa and there is currently very limited research on its implementation, especially in a whole primary school setting in the South. Critical posthumanism provides the theoretical framework to analyse philosophical enquiries as more than linguistic and always already material. I theorise with and draw on transdisciplinary scholarship and practices of philosophers/ theorists/ researchers/ practitioners in the fields of Critical Posthumanism, Philosophy for/with Children and Philosophy of Childhood. In this study, the community of philosophical enquiry is both the methodology for my teaching as well as my research methodology. I facilitate thirteen communities of philosophical enquiry with all seven grades of one government primary school in Cape Town (159 children in total). An embroidered tapestry of the school is used to provoke each of the thirteen intra-generational philosophical enquiries. Temporal and spatial diffraction (Barad, 2007, 2010, 2014, 2017) is adopted as a posthuman methodology to re-turn to the data in this experiential, dis/embodied and experimental research project. The communities of philosophical enquiry as pedagogical events generate video-recordings, audio recordings, photographic images, video stills, artwork and transcripts. The co-created data is diffracted through each other and re-turned to again and again. Through tracing the material-discursive entanglements in each of the methodological ‘steps' of a community of philosophical enquiry, my research contributes to the importance of doing justice to the more-than-human as well as children in educational research. The land, school, tapestry as provocation, making of the circle, thinking and drawing as enquiring and other materials show the inclusion of the more-than-human and why this matters. My research does not only give different answers about the inclusion of child and the more-than-human but also asks different kinds of questions that cannot be separated: ethical, philosophical, political, ontological, epistemological and aesthetic.