September 2020


Ann Margaret Sharp is one of the most significant names in the history of the development of methods and approaches in learning and teaching to encourage critical thinking and their application in the community of inquiry - P4C in the UK, and later in the world. Representatives of the TPO Foundation - SAPERE BiH program: Zilka Spahić Šiljak, Melika Šahinović and Elmana Cerić attended the conference which was organized by Winchester University from the UK with moderators: Patricia Hannam, Joanna Hayney, Megan Laverty and Maughn Gregory. The conference was attended by over 35 participants from different countries: Taiwan, Italy, Great Britain, Sweden, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, North America and Mexico.
The facilitators presented the life and work of Ann Margaret Sharp who can be an inspiration to all who teach, emphasizing her academic contribution but also the practical application of knowledge from philosophy. The creators of Philosophy for Children - P4C are Matthew Lipman and Ann Margaret Sharp, whose goal was pedagogy to encourage thinking of young people. They founded the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC) at Montclair State University in the 1970s. Since then, P4C centers have developed around the world. Prof. Maughn spoke about her life and work, as well as commitment to her work and love for children and their intellectual, social and emotional development. Maughn Rollins Gregory is a professor at the University of Montclair, where in 2001 he succeeded Matthew Lipman as director of the Institute for Advances in Philosophy for Children. He was assisted by dr. Megan Jane Laverty who is a Associate Professor of Philosophy and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Those who knew Ann and worked with her concluded that she was an extremely caring person and she always encouraged people to speak, especially those whose voices were not heard or were underrepresented, such as women, racial and other minorities.
After getting acquainted with the life and work of Ann Margaret Sharp, as well as with other participants who recounted their experiences with Ann and who were her students, P4C philosophical inquiries followed. Participants were divided into four groups and the plan was to hold short discussions based on a letter written by Ann to all teachers, entitled A letter to a novice teacher, and based on her famous work Harry Stottlemeier´s Discovery. Four groups answered some of the big questions such as: what does it mean for the facilitator to be pedagogically rigorous while not dominating, is the community of inquiry a space for teaching virtues and what virtues, or is it a social justice learning program, etc. Participants of different educational, age, and cultural backgrounds contributed to the conversation with their ideas, attitudes, and opinions shaped through personal experiences and practices in the communities of inquiries. The conclusions on which most agreed with were related to cultural differences and perceptions of values: sometimes the Western way of understanding values ​​is not equated with understanding the same values ​​in other parts of the world; culture, tradition, politics and religion greatly influence the perception of justice, virtues and values ​​that should be ingrained in society, but also the goal of the philosophical community and the role of facilitator. Values ​​must never be ruled out, and they especially refer to mutual respect, courage, perseverance and self-respect - these are also fundamental ethical values ​​that help connect and understand diversity but also contribute to the possibility of development of ideas and opinions of each person.  
Work of international members of the philosophical community continues, while SAPERE BIH through the TPO Foundation will integrate and adapt educational programs of Ann Margaret Sharp for primary and secondary school teachers in BiH. Professors and researchers of P4C are also associates of the TPO Foundation who will prepare materials for participants in the SAPERE program in BiH.