Work in Progress - Philosophical Enquiry in the West Indies
Retired teachers Paul and Doris Cleghorn spent a week last January on the exotically named southern Carribean islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, in the Grenadines. They’d been invited by the islands’ Education Minister to introduce teachers to the radical ‘Thinking Through Philosophy’ programme - it has had striking success in schools from Scotland to South Africa. The Cleghorns’ project is funded by the ERT.
On the first day, the Education Officer for Carriacou told them that local youngsters were unable to be still enough in class and could not think well or express themselves. Thinking Through Philosophy (TTP) is designed to transform just these conditions.
Visiting schools, running teacher workshops, and talking to them, Paul and Doris found the state of education very poor. Many teachers have no formal training. The physical facilities leave a lot to be desired: ‘there was little learning and even less teaching going on in some classrooms…Old rooms with bare floors and some ancient home-made teaching aids were the norm.’ But the feedback from teachers was good. They were keen to get material and start the TTP exercises in their classrooms. So, back in the UK, Paul has sent many weeks’ worth of classroom work for the schools to get on with.
Paul and Doris plan to return in October, when they will work with teachers and their classes, to build learning communities and pass on teaching techniques. TTP could make a big difference to education on these islands.