Reflection as a form of parrhesia or franc à parler

34 Name of activity:

Philosophy and Childhood:

Reflection as a form of parrhesia or franc à parler

Organization presenting this method:


A Number of

people reflecting:

  Solo (1 person)   Small group

(< 20 people) x


 Large group

(> 20 people)


B The way(s) of sharing:


Non-verbal:   Pictures /






  Em­bodied x  sculpture



  Other forms of expression



Digital:   Padlet


  Social media   Digital diary


C Place of reflection (where)   Indoors


  Out of doors




D The connection with guidelines:

What guidelines are you taking into consideration, while organizing your reflection?





Don´t direct content, direct process in order to co-create the reflective process.



Develop relationships based on trust, openness, empathy, honesty, dialogue and feed-back


Facilitate growth in awareness in learners, help them to “own” their learning,

In a personal and meaningful way.



Try to manage the paradox, involved in steering of an intrinsic learning process, ie to create a heightened reflective attention of learners.


Slow down and value moments of not-knowing, while progressively deepening your reflection questions.
6 Recall that reflection can never be imposed, only kindly invited.


Always consider reflection as a broad and deepening process, that should be holistic.


Be careful of how you assess reflection – if you assess it at all.

Inspiration for Reflection

Project reflect






Broader description of method or story of an actual practice


Goal of activity:



–          creating an encounter with the self – as part of larger discourse/regime

–          experiencing childhood as a possibility to think in a different way







The last few decades there is a growth of interest in doing Philosophy with Children in educational settings. Philosophy with/for children in general is understood as a practice in which reflection forms the basic goal. It typically conceives the work of truthtelling as the work of dialogical reasoning, which is understood as leading to an increasing conscious use of deductive and inductive mental en methodological procedures. This proposal starts however, from another point of view. The practice presented here does not refer to a method that teaches how to think/reflect in an appropriate way, but rather and following Michel Foucault, as a practice oriented by care of the self – in the interest of a transformation of the self by the self.   Philosophy with children, here is understood as experiencing childhood (i.e as potentiality to think differently)

Reflection method:

Many philosophers notice that there is a relationship between thinking and physical activity and more especially walking (Nietzsche, Rimbaud, Thoreau, Benjamin, Gros, …). In relation to this, a few years ago I did a project with children in Cambodia. In this project I invited children to go walking. And this is what we did, walking and nothing but walking, without any direction in the hot and dusty terrain of Siem Reap for more than 6 hours. Starting early in the morning. The children were provided with water and rice.


Story from practice:



–          Walk

–          Go left,

–          Go right


Process and steps: a story

Step by step and without any direction. We were just walking and talking–talking in the language that we shared, which is the language, you might say, that is spoken between the tourist and the seller. ‘Do you know Ankor Watt?’, ‘Do you want to buy a postcard?’, ‘Do you want bracelets?’ were the questions the children asked me. I was the tourist, they were the sellers

We were walking next to each other in a sort of desert—a piece of land that divides their homes from the tourist attractions (the Temples of Ankor Watt). It was a place that had no function, that only existed as space between their homes and the temples. You might say that it was a no man’s land, or a place of abandonment. It was a place of garbage and dust, where there was, apparently, nothing to experience or to see

We wandered for hours in this open place–or non-place. Step by step. Left, right, left… There was no specific route or plan. There were only the tourist attractions in the distance, which reminded us that we were not there.

It was also a place of exhaustion. Exhaustion was a second element.

The heat and the walking made the mind and the body empty. The relationship between the actors was changing. There was less and less attention paid to keeping up appearances. The growing exhaustion made everyone sincere and quiet. Questions and remarks such as ‘What am I doing here?’, ‘There is nothing to see!’, ‘There is nothing to experience!’ were entering the mind.

The children had been invited to go walking, but this walk could not be classified under any of the models of traditional education. It was not a walk that fit into the school curriculum. It was a walking tour that directed us, step by step, to exposure, and to what there is to see before our eyes. It directed us toward and attached us to that which did not have a meaning (at least not for our kind of educational thinking, which is obsessed by knowledge or competencies), but which existed nevertheless.

The walk and the exhaustion broke the rhythm of the systematic and the cliché. They prepared the rupture necessary to expose our thinking to what was actually happening, and to move past our own reflections in order to see anew.

The tourist language that we spoke was gradually extinguished, and the stranger that was I stopped being a tourist. Or was it different? Perhaps I, the  foreigner, became a real stranger, an intruder, someone who had penetrated their gaze: someone who was not easy to receive, nor perhaps to conceive—someone who was just there. She became someone who walked with them: someone who brought them into a position in which they no longer recognized or knew themselves as learners.  But at the same time, she no longer recognized herself as an expert. Both the expert and the learner became strangers to themselves. The expert and the pupil emerged from this adventure in a position of equality

Timeframe: One day walking