Didactic projects

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Philosophizing with children

Dr. Francesca Michelini, in collaboration with Dr. Stephanie Wenzel (Christoph-Lichtenberg-Schule Kassel).
Student collaboration: Marvin Best.

Philosophy "for children" or philosophizing "with children" is a pedagogical practice that has developed and spread worldwide since the 1970s. Contrary to the view of developmental psychologist Jean Piaget, for whom children are only capable of critical thinking at the age of 11 or 12, the practical experience of teachers and educators shows that they can already benefit from philosophical discussions in the early years of elementary school. Children ask many questions about meaning because they want to understand. They wonder about everyday things that seem quite normal to us, but are still full of mystery and wonder to them. Children are not only looking for explanations of how things work, or want justification of immediate needs, but they are curious about themselves and ask questions about the meaning and purpose of their existence in the world.

First implementation phase of the project (SoSe 2022):  
"Mini-Kinderakademie Philosophie", in collaboration with Year 5 at Christoph-Lichtenberg-Schule Kassel.

Based on the book 'NICHTS und wieder nichts' by Antje Damm, small groups of a 5th grade class worked on thought papers about what nothingness is and discussed the value of pauses in music, the vastness of the universe, death and whether it is even possible to perceive nothingness.

Second implementation phase of the project (WS 22/23):
"Teaching philosophy at lower and upper secondary level - a comparison in the implementation of selected topics with pupils of different age groups", in collaboration with 5th and 11th year pupils at Christoph-Lichtenberg-Schule Kassel.

The concept of 'identity formation' was discussed with an additional, secondary focus on modern media criticism on the one hand in a 5th grade with the help of consecutive tasks and examples from advertising about role models, and on the other hand in an 11th grade Freud's well-known identity model from 'Ego - Id - Superego' was dealt with and used for a discourse on the everyday use of smartphones.

Frame Talks - stimulating processes of visual thinking

Dr. Francesca Michelini, in collaboration with Dr. Stephanie Wenzel (Christoph-Lichtenberg-Schule Kassel) with the participation of Prof. Shelley Sachs (Oxford Brookes University) and Anna Backmund (Kassel21 Social Sculpture Lab).

Frame Talks is a method developed by the scientist and artist Shelley Sacks. She worked with Joseph Beuys for over a decade as part of his "Free International University" (FIU). Frame Talks offer new forms of compilation and shared reflection based on pictorial thinking as a connective practice for the development of new narratives. The application of the method to the fundamental concepts of human, nature, future, freedom and love allowed for very deep and rich thinking together with the students and proved to be very useful and stimulating for the training of future teachers. Initially, two meetings were organized for the students: One at the University of Kassel and the second together with the students* at the Christoph-Lichtenberg-Schule Kassel.


Philosophizing with videos

Dr. Francesca Michelini
Student assistance: Marvin Best

The use of philosophical videos in the classroom offers many multimodal activation and learning opportunities, but is also subject to some unique difficulties: Few videos accurately encompass the range of topics targeted in the classroom, many are not appropriate for the comprehension level of the grade level, or are written in English, and would need to be structured or worded differently for ideal implementation in the classroom. To give future teachers the skills and confidence to independently create simple, customized videos for their classroom, while also giving them a sense of the challenges their future students might encounter if they were to create their own videos, it is helpful to walk them through the process of successful video production.
How do you create an engaging video for students? How to activate students to think about a philosophical concept/topic? How do I explain a complicated philosophical principle in a way that is appropriate for the grade level and differentiation? And as a future teacher, can I even produce (and instruct) videos myself?
The students involved in this project deal with these questions both theoretically and practically and are advised and supported by the lecturers at every stage of the creative process.

First implementation phase of the project (WS 23/24):
Philosophizing with videos using the example of media ethics: five groups of students created works in different video styles on the topics of cyberbullying, cancel culture & utilitarianism, digital footprint, the editorial society, and digital paternalism in the surveillance state.