The Philosophy Club partners with schools and communities to build a culture of critical and creative thinking through collaborative philosophical enquiry.
We offer a vision for whole-school transformation, fostering a school-wide culture of effective thinking. All our programs build skills in collaborative enquiry, argument literacy, reflection and metacognition.
We have partnered with a range of primary and secondary schools, as well as with universities and with civic and cultural organisations including The City of Melbourne, Embiggen Books, The Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas and Library at The Dock.
We run unique professional development programs for primary and secondary teachers, and acclaimed student workshop programs for all year levels (P – 12).
– Our professional development programs empower teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to confidently facilitate philosophical enquiry in the classroom.
– Our student workshops immerse young people in stimulating philosophical questions and open up a universe of ideas, with a focus on developing reasoning and communication skills through collaborative enquiry and dialogue.
– Our Philosopher-in-Residence program provides a model of school-wide philosophical engagement, teacher support and community awareness, and accelerates participants’ skill development during an intensive period of practice.
We look forward to working with your school or learning community. Please contact us if your school is interested in participating.
Who we are
Michelle Sowey: Co-founder and Director.
After receiving First Class Honours in Philosophy from the University of NSW, Michelle Sowey worked in intelligence analysis and educational equity before dedicating herself to supporting children’s thinking through philosophical dialogue. She began The Philosophy Club in living rooms and community halls across Melbourne and Sydney, using a process of collaborative enquiry to ignite children’s curiosity and deepen their understanding.
Michelle has come to be known for her energy, dedication and excellence in communicating with people of all ages and diverse backgrounds. In 2013, she launched the Big Questions philosophy mentoring program which connected university-level philosophy students with primary school students from low socio-economic backgrounds. In 2014 she was awarded the Prize for Innovation in Inclusive Curricula by the Australasian Association of Philosophy in recognition of her success in making philosophical dialogue accessible to a wide range of participants.
Currently, as well as operating The Philosophy Club and maintaining its high quality blog and facebook page, Michelle leads the Young Environmental Philosophers initiative, a forum for young people and their families to explore the philosophical ideas that underlie environmental beliefs and actions. In 2019, together with Grace Lockrobin of Thinking Space (UK), she co-convened ‘Community Philosophers and the Climate Crisis’, an international network of philosophy educators concerned to use their professional skills and platforms to address the climate and ecological emergency; free resources to support work in this area are available here.
Michelle is a member of the Federation of Australasian Philosophy in Schools Associations. Her paper ‘Unveiling and Packaging: A model for presenting philosophy in schools’ will appear in the forthcoming issue of the journal Human Affairs. Her papers Against directive teaching in the moral Community of Inquiry: A response to Michael Hand (co-authored with Grace Lockrobin of Thinking Space) and Strengthening dialogical argument: What teachers can learn from authentic examples of student dialogue appear in the Journal of Philosophy in Schools. Selected other publications include The NAPLAN Persuasive Writing Test Subverts Critical Thinking in John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations; Can You Kill a Goat By Staring At It? A critical look at minimally invasive education on The Philosophy Foundation blog; and Philosophy for Children: A reflective approach to human rights education in Right Now: Human Rights in Australia.
Michelle’s CV is available here.
David Urbinder: Co-founder and Development Consultant.
Educator and designer David Urbinder creates The Philosophy Club’s innovative curriculum materials, providing rich and challenging learning experiences that engage children in critical thinking, creative problem-solving, collaboration and reflection.
David has been involved in The Philosophy Club’s development since its inception, initially through curriculum and resource development, and more recently as a facilitator and development manager. David is passionate about the capacity of philosophical dialogue to empower a new generation by promoting more rational and independent thinking.
Drawing on his background in education and psychology, David has helped shape The Philosophy Club’s unique curricula of activities and discussion plans. Using skills he developed in media and design, David has created a range of multimedia ‘idea catalysts’ in the form of original films, scripts, stories, soundtracks and theatrical activities, all designed to provoke children’s deep and whimsical thinking.
We have to live today by what truth we can get today, and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood.”
– William James