Institute teaches how to teach teachers

For close to 25 years, Matthew Lipman has directed the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children at Montclair State University. The Institute teaches professors how to teach teachers to foster classroom discussions among elementary school students. "There's no better way to get children to think critically than to convert the classroom into a community of deliberative inquiry," says Ann Margaret Sharp, associate director of the Institute.

Lipman can point to many ways in which their persistence has paid off. The College of Education and Human Services at MSU, one of the country's leading teacher education institutions, will offer a doctoral program specializing in Philosophy for Children starting in the summer of 1999, and applications from graduate students are flooding in. "This is an excellent way to prepare the outstanding teachers of the future," says Nicholas Michelli, Dean of MSU's College of Education and Human Services.

With affiliates of the Institute in some 40 countries around the world and with its huge curriculum translated into some 20 languages, Lipman says that the Institute has brought a new and important meaning to MSU's commitment to international education.

As proof, Lipman notes that UNESCO's Paris headquarters has selected the Philosophy for Children curriculum as one of its highly sought-after "projects." This means that UNESCO will give support to educators around the world who want the program in their country.

Is the program successful? "We've barely scratched the surface," says Lipman.

Lipman may be contacted at (973) 655-5171/4277 or by email at lipman@saturn.montclair.edu.