petak, 3. svibnja 2013.

Reflecting on Philosophy for elders workshops

After three months, my first Philosophy for elders workshops program is over.

     Six workshops held in village of Bijelo Brdo, in Croatia, started in February with a simple idea that anyone and anywhere can do philosophy. Though I had my doubts about the whole project as we started, everything turned out even better than I expected. Now is the time to shortly reflect on everything we've been trough.

     The program itself consisted of six very simple workshops, dealing mainly with methods of socratic dialogue, argumentation, conceptualisation, questioning and debate. Participants took it very well, even though they constantly emphasized that they were not educated enough for that kind of practice. Sometimes i had a hard time explaining to them that backgroud in academic philosophy isn't needed for people to think for themselves, nor did i use any technical terms in order to explain a situation or a problem with which we dealt. For every topic i choose to mention some everyday examples which they could have experienced in their lives and i mentioned only Plato of all famous philosopher, just in order to illustrate a point, for which, again, nobody needed any academic backgroud in philosophy. We kept it simple untill the end and i'm sure that's what they enjoyed the most - dealing with some serious issues, based only on their own thoughts and views.

     We started with 15 participants at the beginning and ended up with 7 regular people by the end. There were some participants who couldn't find the time, or got sick, or just didn't like it so they stopped comming, but the ones who stayed were really pleased every time we meet and eager to know everything about our next meeting, in order to prepare better.

    Facilitating the workshops wasn't easy, because, as in every group of people, there were some who couldn't stop talking, no matter what the topic was, and there were those quiet ones, who speak only when asked something. The group was really friendly and they have known each other for quite some time, so there was quite a bit of laughs, but when it comes to work they have shown a great success in serious philosophizing on various topics. The methods which we used weren't hard for them, they accepted them really fast and played along with every task which i gave them.

     At the end, participants told me that from now on they won't consider philosophy to be an useless term, but rather usefull thinking skill for better expression of thoughts with meaning. Honestly, i didn't and i couldn't expect these workshops to be a lifechanging event for the participants, but i am really glad i had a chance to work and share bits of wisdom with them. I can say that we achieved my initial goals, with these workshops i wanted to prove that philosophy can be usefull and that anyone can do philosophy. Other than that, i got alot more - i had a chance to do what i love the most and with amazing people who, at the end, benefit more than i did.

Zoran Kojcic