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Avoiding 'passive empathy' with Philosophy for Children

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This essay begins by addressing concerns raised by Megan Boler regarding empathy's conceptual ambiguities and pedagogical effectiveness. This will be followed by a call for a systematic pedagogical approach to educating for empathy based on dialogue. I will argue that in order to be effective, empathic pedagogy should provide students with a means of engaging across the boundaries of the subject by allowing for peer-mediated inquiry-based interactions that support the sharing of affective states. Finally, I will argue that Community of Inquiry - the dialogical, inquiry-based pedagogy used in the Philosophy for Children program - is a crucial and paradigmatic means for promoting the further development of empathy.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Penn State University, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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