Community of Philosophical Inquiry as a Discursive Structure, and its Role in School Curriculum Design

Nadia S. Kennedy, David Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This article traces the development of the theory and practice of what is known as 'community of inquiry' as an ideal of classroom praxis. The concept has ancient and uncertain origins, but was seized upon as a form of pedagogy by the originators of the Philosophy for Children program in the 1970s. Its location at the intersection of the discourses of argumentation theory, communications theory, semiotics, systems theory, dialogue theory, learning theory and group psychodynamics makes of it a rich site for the dialogue between theory and practice in education. This article is an exploration of those intersections, and a prospectus of its possible role in the formation and reformulation of school curriculum. It will be argued here that, when formulated as community of philosophical inquiry in particular, it offers the possibility of 'philosophising' the school curriculum in general, by extending the concept-work that doing philosophy entails to all of the disciplines. The article begins with an attempt at an operational definition of the term as, move to an analysis of its dynamics, offers an example of its use in a mathematics classroom, and finishes with a schematic view of its whole-curriculum and whole-school possibilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-283
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Philosophy of Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2011


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