Education Pioneers Critical Thinking Exercise

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Their charge, as a class and as a supportive community, would be to answer Socrates’ call to action: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”Inspired by his belief that “the search for an authentic self is one of the primary tasks of adolescence,” the curriculum fosters a supportive, trusting environment for seniors to navigate life’s philosophical questions together., or “the Council” for short, referring to the tradition of the tribal council.

As of 2013, over 4,500 seniors have participated in the Council’s exploration of identity and purpose among small, confidential groups of seniors.

Or is it the function of education to prepare us while we are young to understand the whole process of life? Krishnamurti Pioneer High School social studies teacher Jim Robert is known to many, including his students, simply as “JR.” At age 58, he has been teaching for 25 years, 24 of them at Pioneer.

In 1996, while teaching a philosophy class to seniors, he began to develop an innovative curriculum idea: how could he create an experience for students to explore self-awareness and self-examination in an academic setting, especially as our culture moves toward test results driven measures of success?

Iconic images were lovingly placed, many playing off each other (soccer Bob Marley standing next to Amma comes to mind).

Compared to the frenzy of the hallway during a passing period, the energy here was calm and focused; the feeling suggesting something extraordinary had been going on in here.

So I suppose that might be the best place to start.

When I was first hired at Pioneer High School and began employing this Socratic pedagogy in my 9th and 10th grade history classes, one of the immediate and most surprising outcomes was the atmosphere in the classroom it created.

Dozens of well-worn armchairs and couches faced forward.

Tibetan flag streamers, portraits of students and original artworks, hockey sticks and other student memorabilia lined the room’s perimeter.


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