Philosophy with Children and the Proprioception of Thinking

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Proprioception is usually used in reference to body movement and the self-perception of body movement. Proprius in Latin means “one’s own,” or “self.” It refers to the physical knowledge acquired, say, in the process of doing a particular activity, such as riding a bicycle, for instance. You can be told how to ride a bicycle, and this may be of some help. But in the end, it’s the physical knowledge and not the mere theoretical knowledge that enables you to ride your bike. David Bohm, a world-renowned theoretical physicist, applied this notion of proprioception to the movement of thought, the process of thought. In On Dialogue, he contends that thinking can become aware of its own movement and aware of itself in action: “Proprioception” is a technical term – you could also say “self-perception of thought,” “self-awareness of thought,” or “thought is aware of itself in action.” Whatever terms we use, I am saying: thought should be able to perceive its own movement, be aware of its own movement. In the process of thought there should be the awareness of that movement, of the intention to think, and of the result which the thinking produces. This opens the door to an understanding of thinking as a process like any other physical process, such as riding a bicycle. We usually think of thinking as an abstract process – one of learning abstract knowledge and how to apply that knowledge. And this is what we are primarily taught in school. Unfortunately, some methods used in doing philosophy with children focus too much on strictly developing abstract critical thinking skills. In doing philosophy with children, I am interested in focusing on the process of thinking in the process of thinking. In this way, it is also different from metacognition, which tends to focus on the ability to self-correct in response to the self-assessment toward the completion of a task.
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