Original Research

Philosophy for children in South African schools: its role for citizens-in-waiting

Thokozani Mathebula
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 1, No 2 | a89 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v1i2.89 | © 2011 Thokozani Mathebula | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 May 2014 | Published: 31 December 2011

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Thokozani Mathebula, Wits University Organisational Unit: Studies in Education Room:B259

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Historically, the concept ‘child’ has a Lockean (1960)connotation, as empty slates new born infants, are considered weak and helpless, until the improvement of growth and age has removed this deficient state of childhood. In modern societies, including South Africa, children are still viewed as citizens-in-waiting, and as citizens who need to be inducted into their future role. This deficit model of childhood is reflected in the construction of democratic citizenship education in post-apartheid South Africa. In this article we present a theoretical justification for Philosophy for Children (P4C) as an avenue to individual enlightenment i.e., education that entails the development of a child’s mind, of rationality or the capacity to think. In the light of a Philosophy for Children agenda as an educational pedagogy, we argue that doing philosophy with children starting from an early age has a special significance in education for democratic citizenship in post-apartheid South Africa.


philosophy for children, education, democracy, citizenship, deliberation,


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