The Excellent Ways To Instill Life-Long Lessons In Our Children & Students

MY LATEST BOOK, Good Manners Will Make You A . . .  Lady/Gentleman & Other Life Lessons is a culmination of lived experiences, lessons learned and many in-service training and career development courses spanning over twenty years. I have had a very eventful life teaching in diverse classrooms in three cosmopolitan cities in three continents: Africa, Europe and Asia. I have worked in Harare, Zimbabwe (January 1994- January 2001); London and Kent (February 2001-August 2011); and Cairo, Egypt (September 2011 to present) with a term’s stint in Baku, Azerbaijan. I have also worked for Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)and Edexcel (Pearson) as an English Examiner rising to Team Leader position.

BESIDES many topics discussed in Part 1, in this post, my focus is on the way to pursue and digest the many discussions on the topics.

Discussion Plans

Each of the topics covered in Good Manners Will Make You A . . .  Lady/Gentleman & Other Life Lessons include discussion plans that can be used to focus our young learners on:

  • Thinking about the topic under discussion and exploring the understanding of our children and students as well as encouraging critical and creative thinking about the topic.

The discussion plans or activities are given as suggestions only and are not meant to be followed slavishly. They are just there as guides to some of the questions that can be asked. You or your children and students, as well as colleagues – may come up with better or more interesting questions. Each topic contains several themes or issues, and you may wish to create questions and activities on other themes in the topics.

Good Manners Will Make You A . . .  Lady/Gentleman & Other Life Lessons is a flexible resource to be adapted and developed to suit your needs as well as those of the children and students in your care.

Leading A Discussion

Good Manners Will Make You A . . .  Lady/Gentleman & Other Life Lessons aims to create a situation where our students and children learn:

  • How to discuss questions, problems and issues together in a Community Of Enquiry.
  • How to be clear in their thinking and reasoning by harnessing and exploring other options.
  • How to listen; to be considerate, and to recognize praise and respect for others.
  • How to avoid conflict, and to think and speak positively.

Thinking and learning are holistic activities, which include several important elements, skills and attitudes including: 

  • Questioning         – Asking good questions to provide a focus for enquiry.
  • Reasoning            – Being logical to support arguments and judgments
  • Defining              – Clarifying concepts through making connections, distinctions, and comparisons.
  • Speculating          – Generating ideas and alternative views through imaginative thinking.
  • Testing For Truth – Gathering information, judging evidence, examples and counterexamples.
  • Expanding On Ideas – Sustaining and extending lines of thought and argument.
  • Summarizing – Abstracting key points or general rules from several ideas or instances.

Building A Community of Enquiry And Philosophical Enquiry

A community of enquiry (CoE) is a workshop-style session that offers space for a group of people to collaboratively explore ideas and ask rich and meaningful questions of one another. Good Manners Will Make You A . . .  Lady/Gentleman & Other Life Lessons are resource-based activities that create a community of enquiry. In a classroom setting, a CoE is a group or class engaged in the exploration of ideas through discussion. It is one of the most effective methods for developing thinking since it benefits from the ‘distributed intelligence’ of the whole group.

The aims of any CoE are two-fold: Firstly, it creates a rational structure for developing ideas, sharing meanings, and enquiring after truth; and secondly, CoE aims at creating a moral structure, involving the practice of cooperation of care, and respect for others, while embodying the principles of democracy in action.

In the beginning, the teacher or adult in charge must take a directive approach to the discussion without dominating the discussion. While acknowledging everyone’s contribution, it is important to try to use your own opinions sparingly. This means withholding judgments by responding to our children and students’ answers in a non-evaluative fashion. Always insist on calling others to respond, for example by saying: ‘Who agrees or disagrees with what X has said?’ ‘Who can summarize what X has said? ‘Who would like to respond?’

Thus, if we want our students and children to think for themselves, we should involve them in thinking together. A community entails cooperative activity, and if we want our children and students to grow into cooperative, responsive, and thoughtful citizens, then a CoE is an activity of the highest importance as it arouses curiosity and invites reflection and discussion.

Subsequently, once routines have been set and discussions have gotten more disciplined and focused, a new trend will start to emerge; a community of philosophical enquiry.

The philosophical enquiry aims to help students and children develop the skills and dispositions that will enable them to play their full part in a pluralistic society. It can boost children and students’ self-esteem and intellectual confidence. Ultimately, it aims to create a caring classroom or home situation where students and children learn to:

  • Explore issues of personal concern such as love, friendship, death, personal identity, etc.
  • Develop their views while exploring and challenging the views of others.
  • Be clear in their thinking, making thoughtful judgments based on reason.
  • Listen to and respect one another.
  • Experience quiet moments of thinking and reflection

Thus, philosophical enquiry initiates children and students into public discussions about meanings and values. It encourages them to think of what it means to be reasonable and to make moral judgments. Such discussions are not just ‘talking points’ but help to create a moral culture, a way of thinking and acting together that cultivates virtues of conduct such as respect for others, sincerity, and open-mindedness. Thus, through philosophical enquiry, our students and children are encouraged to find their paths to meaning through discussions with others.

As of old:


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