Picturebooks, Pedagogy and Philosophy

By Joanna Haynes, Karin Murris

Picturebooks, Pedagogy and Philosophy

by Routledge 256 pages


Series: Routledge Research in Education
Hardback: 978-0-415-88080-0
Price: $130.00, £80.00, ZAR1,250.50 incl. VAT

Softback: US$39.50, UKP26.00, ZAR355.00 incl. VAT

Published: August 2011
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This book will be of interest to parents, scholars and students of education studies, philosophy, philosophy of education, literacy teaching and learning, children’s literature, childhood and pedagogy. It offers a particular take on the urgent moral and political debate regarding children’s freedom of expression by proposing seven arguments against censorship. The aim of the book is to persuade readers of the importance of extending freedom of thought and exploration to children in classrooms, and that it will provide a strong sense of philosophy with children as a teaching approach that can give confidence to both participants and teachers alike in the face of controversial questions and issues. The book is divided into three parts.


REVIEW by Richard Morehouse, Editor, Analytic Teaching & Philosophical Praxis, Viterno University, USA. 

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Denise Batchelor, Centre for Higher Education Studies, Institute of Education, London, UK, in London Review of Education.

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In Part I we explore picturebooks at length, making connections with a range of academic literature, drawing on many specific examples, and discussing the work of those authors whose pieces seem to be found particularly provocative or troublesome. The picturebooks we use as texts for teaching are deliberately thought-provoking and ambiguous. A list of titles has been taken up in an appendix. We also explain how our approach builds on, but also differs from, Matthew Lipman’s P4C programme—internationally the most popular educational resource for the teaching of philosophy to children. We explain the significance of the adoption of picturebooks as starting points pioneered by one of us (Murris) and further developed through our shared teaching, our many conversations, and collaborative writing. We offer a philosophical perspective on children’s literature, one that strengthens and complements the pedagogy and expresses our political and moral choices and our regard for children as philosophers.

Part II considers ideas of child and childhood, particularly from philosophical perspectives. We investigate the problems of responding authentically to children’s claims to knowledge, particularly when ideas are expressed through playful and imaginative dialogues in the context of a flexible and creative philosophical space. This includes a look at ways in which children’s engagement with philosophy challenges our understanding of what philosophy is and what child is.

Part III of the book returns to the ethical and political dimensions of philosophical enquiry with children using picturebooks, and explores the contribution that philosophical listening might make to educational practices that allow for more participation by children.

The 30 images in this book serve as carriers of abstract meaning and insight as well as contributing to the aesthetic delight and pleasure we hope the reader will experience. Our philosophical work with picturebooks is impossible to classify. It is neither literacy nor literary criticism; neither traditional philosophy nor art. It is also philosophically a radical departure from the P4C tradition that was its inspiration and starting point. We offer something new that we hope will contribute to these fields, but the main aim of this book is to support educators who have the courage to create a democratic space in which children are free to play with the ideas provoked by contemporary picturebooks, whatever the topic.