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What is a text-book answer?
A dialogue with 10 year-olds
Oyvind (Administrator) #1
User title: Children and youth philosopher
Member since Oct 2006 · 74 posts · Location: Eidsvoll, Norway
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Subject: What is a text-book answer?
I visited a primary school the other day. I had a dialogue with a group of 10 year-olds. One pupil thought that in philosophy there are no text-book answers. Sure, sounds plausible, but what is actually a text-book answer? In what school subjects do we find text-book answers? In Math. Yes, and in History. No, not in History. History is old and we can never be sure about old things. A text-book answer is all about facts, says one pupil who has so far kept quiet. He gives an example too: If you read in a book that stones are round things, then you go out in nature and check for yourself; then you know that the book is correct and that it has given a "text-book answer". So, can one have more than one text-book answer to a question? No, shouts one. Could he give an example? Sure: "How many planets are there in our solar system?" Only one answer is possible here. Another pupil disagrees. You can have two answers to this question. It depends on whether you count in Pluto as a planet or not. Yes, but that doesn't mean that there are really two answers, replied the first, there can't be either eight or nine planets! Well, said the other, if you can have one or two definitions, sure there is no problem with eight or nine planets.
Retention of strangeness is the only antidote to estrangement. T. W. Adorno
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