The next chapter … Austria
Well here we are once again embarking on another philosophical adventure. This time nestled in the western beauty of Austria, Bregenz overlooking the scenic Bodensee, the German word for lake. This outstanding spot of natural beauty is also commonly known as Lake Constance. It is here that we lovers of philosophy have congregated to spend a weekend with like-minded individuals. The magic of P4C never ceases to amaze me and has this time introduced me to two wonderful human beings Kornelia and Maria.
Amidst copious amounts of coffee, cake and good food we sat around absorbed in the richness of discussions centred around two central themes philosophy and education. I experienced a sense of déjà vu creeping in and found myself completely at home with virtual strangers and it was then that Dr J’s familiar saying resonated so profoundly ‘p4c magic’ … this was it in action. Over time I have come to the realisation that a singular central chord of passion and genuine interest can ignite a bond which is so strong in essence that it is almost unshakable. Could it be this commonality that binds me so closely to other facilitators and enthusiasts of p4c? Perhaps, or perhaps it is something much deeper, much more profound. Dr J likes the idea of it being connected to the notion of past lives and the possibility of connecting spiritually soul to soul with a distant but vibrant familiarisation. I like to think of it as being an intensely innate human condition which we all have the potential to tap into but only some have the fortunate inclination to do so. Perhaps deeply suppressed in the subconscious layers of our thinking it is what our mind is ‘hard wired’ to do, what it yearns to do and why it gives us such an unconditional sense of joy and to some extent enlightenment. Engaging in philosophical enquiry even in an informal setting such as this makes me feel alive in the most dynamic sense of the word. I feel as if I am undergoing a transformative change which strips away the layers of sedimentary assumptions and perceptions. It challenges me to question myself and my own thinking in a refreshingly critical manner as if I am viewing the world from a different vantage point for the very first time.
Ben and I often discussed this topic and shared thoughts about the power of p4c in relation to its appeal. Does p4c attract a certain type of person or can it be adopted and embraced by anyone? Do you have to possess a particular type of mind set to fully appreciate its benefits? Is it innate or can it be taught and if so how effectively? Is it a measurable phenomena? It is my firm belief that unlocking the answers to these complexly riddled questions even partially would allow us to further the vision of p4c as an approach to teaching and learning and not just the mere celebration of it as a subject in isolation, an island in the vast expanse of curriculum, content and political agendas. It has a contagious capacity to infiltrate an individual’s disposition to teaching from its very core. Meeting all these wonderful people over the course of this weekend has reaffirmed my belief that p4c has a habit of ‘getting under your skin’ and becoming an essential lifeline for each of us. One which binds us more closely as philosophers, humanitarians, citizens and friends. We all come together to form a central community … a sacred place where the meeting of minds takes place. I know that somewhere in the profundity of this questioning lies an insatiably appealing research question for me to explore …