This weekend I went to see Night at the Museum II, a film in which the characters from across history come alive simultaneously in the Smithsoneon Museum (to say they engaged may be a little over stating it :0). The principle of the film, reviving historic figures into the same time zone reminded me very much of “Bill & Ted”, from 1988/9.
A few, five-ish, years ago, inspired by Bill & Ted, colleagues got together in an event which used this same principle; it was called “Talking Philosophers” and involved a group of staff each assuming the role of a significant (usually dead) character in educational philosophy. From memory I think there was Plato and Dewey among them. With a facilitator and schedule of issues to cover, key differences in the characters’ view points were acted out through dialogue in an online community space. Each participant would research their character’s position and engage with others.
The value in this included
- each participant got to engage with resources, and research the views and activities of their character role.
- participants had to articulate the possition and views of their character in dialogue, therefore having opportunity to engage with the material.
- participants were challenged by others and so had to ‘pitch’ the views of their character in to a debate or discussion.
- participants had to apply the philosophy of their character to a present day scenario or question; they would need to interpret and apply their understandings of their character.
- they would need to listen to the views of the other characters and engage, they would hear about the possitions of other key characters.
Whilst talking philosophers, admittedly, was a bit of a niche activity, the model I think has value. It is a fun way to discover key theories, events and characters from a particular discipline. Undertaking this exercise online in an asynchrous space is important as it allows time to reflect between posts, as compared to undertaking this as a fully classroom based activity.