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Michael Burroughs Gives a Guest Lecture in Sweden

In western society, children are thought of as inadequate and incomplete individuals. This can cause problems in school because this approach overshadows children's abilities and what they can actually do, according to researcher Michael Burroughs who recently visited Luleå University of Technology. His research concludes that children are often seen as the opposite of adults. In the U.S., teachers and administrators focus on traditional educational goals leaving philosophical thinking about what it means to be a child or the purpose of teaching behind. Burroughs’ focus aims to bring philosophy into the classroom. His seminar consisted of conceptual and practical ideas to aid teachers and administrators.

This article has been edited and reprinted with permission. The original piece by Emma Bergström Wuolo can be found on the Luleå University of Technology news page.

In western society, children are thought of as inadequate and incomplete individuals. This can cause problems in school because this approach overshadows children's abilities and what they can actually do, according to researcher Michael Burroughs who recently visited Luleå University of Technology. His research concludes that children are often seen as the opposite of adults.

In the U.S., teachers and administrators focus on traditional educational goals leaving philosophical thinking about what it means to be a child or the purpose of teaching behind. Burroughs’ focus aims to bring philosophy into the classroom.  His seminar consisted of conceptual and practical ideas to aid teachers and administrators.

“It's been wonderful to get to visit Luleå University of Technology and working with the researchers here. I'm very impressed by the faculty here.” - Michael D. Burroughs.

Burroughs opened the seminar by explaining that “A concept is not something we just study in books, it affects how we treat children.” Seeing the children in a new perspective is difficult, but doable provided the teachers are constantly aware of them.  However, just because a teacher is aware that there is a problem does not mean it’s easy to change the behavior. According to Burroughs, “This type of basic reasoning is very important and needed in teacher training.”

The seminar continued with a discussion on how future teachers can work practically with children when it comes to philosophical questions. As an example, Burroughs takes his own work with pre-school children.  During each session he starts with a story or invites the children to create art around a theme such as friendship or school. The children get involved and think critically about the story that leads to a philosophical discussion the children can comprehend.

Michael Burroughs was invited to speak This lecture is part of joint research with Ulrika Bergmark, assistant professor of education at Luleå University of Technology.