"Wandering Through Life"—Introducing Philosophical Practice with Children and Adolescents in the Church of Norway

Project presentation by Øyvind Olsholt, Co-Director of Children and Youth Philosophers, Norway

Published in:

Eva Marsal, Takara Dobashi, Barbara Weber (eds.):
Children Philosophize Worldwide—Theoretical and Practical Concepts
Band 9 in Hodos—Wege bildungsbezogener Ethikforschung in Philosophie und Theologie,
published by Institut für Philosophie und Theologie der Pädagogischen Hochschule Karlsruhe
Peter Lang Verlag
Frankfurt am Main 2009
ISSN 1619-666X
ISBN 978-3-631-59329-5

p. 633-644

Abstract

In 2006 Children and Youth Philosophers commenced a project in the Church of Norway named "Wandering through life". Besides Children and Youth Philosophers the project involves three church organisations: Youth Chorister's Association, The Pilgrim Priests and Liturgical Centre. Together we search for parallels as well as incongruities between philosophical and religious practice—in particular we want to look into the relationship between pilgrimage and philosophical dialogue. Also an important aim of the project is to educate and train church youth leaders enabling them to lead philosophical dialogues with children and youth in the Church of Norway. The project runs through 2008.

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2 Philosophy and pilgrimage

Take a typical pilgrim: she walks at slow pace, in solitude, even when she walks in the company of others. Maintaining a steady walking rhythm she moves pensively and peacefully, travelling as much in her own mind as in the physical world that surrounds her. As she walks she becomes increasingly aware of a multitude of thoughts and feelings, but by the end of the day only the most solid and "down-to-earth" thoughts remain in her head. It is as if the contemplative wandering makes the superficial and insubstantial thoughts—thoughts that often occupy the better part of our consciousness in everyday life—evaporate in thin air.

Now, take a typical—or should I say ideal—philosophical enquirer: she too moves at slow pace, carefully passing from statement to statement, from argument to argument, from question to question, identifying each phrase before moving to the next. She too is concentrated, at home with herself so to speak, even when she partakes in a group. She too digs deeply into her own mind, not in order to make for an escape from the outer world, but in an effort to bring forward the meanings of—and interconnections between—the spoken words, both her own and those coming from her co-enquirers. Also, one could say that after a philosophical session only the most solid, well-founded and substantiated thoughts remain in the consciousness of the enquirer. Irrelevant examples, unsupported claims, fanciful suppositions, wild ideas and other loose ends bounce off as the intellectual drama of the dialogue comes to a head.

But there are more—and more profound—similarities between Christian pilgrimage and philosophical enquiry. Let us look at four stages often used to describe the process of pilgrimage:

Now, compare these four stages with the process of philosophical enquiry as we know it from Socrates and Plato and later from the basic principles of community of enquiry familiar from the philosophy for children-methodology:

Having identified some similarities and differences between the two practices we can now move on to the project itself. I'll start by describing our first weekend training course, then give a report from our first pilgrimage weekend, arranged six months later.


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