Local school teachers, professors and students of philosophy at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP), and several community organizations have teamed up for a bilingual project called Philosophy for Children in the Borderlands:
Philosophy for Children classes begin with the understanding that every child (indeed, every person) is a philosopher by nature. Through engaging in philosophical dialogue, children and youth learn to question their world and their unique place in it. Given that our program is situated in the unique and challenging sociopolitical context that is the Mexico-US borderlands, we are committed to facilitating philosophical dialogues that reflect and respond to the particular philosophical questions that this region inspires.
Students at UTEP are trained to lead schoolchildren in philosophical discussions, often with a focus on issues related to U.S. – Mexico borderlands.
The project began in August of 2014 and includes four sites in El Paso, Texas, and one site in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. It was created by UTEP assistant professor of philosophy Amy Reed-Sandoval. In a post at the Blog of the APA, she is quoted as saying:
We also hoped to highlight the need for education reform. Children of the borderlands raise fascinating and important philosophical questions, and they deserve opportunities to explore life’s most important questions as a regular part of their learning.
Hilda Villegas, a community organizer for La Muja Obrera/Familias Unidas del Chamizal is one of the people interviewed in the documentary. She says:
Women here like myself, we’re very limited in what we can do because of our economic status or because there are less opportunities for Mexican women along the border… Sometimes we have to be very creative about how we learn. I was able to be creative if I just questioned certain things, and I know that philosophy, right now, with what we’re trying to do with children, we’re trying to allow them to do that… From very little this system is teaching you to be very obedient… for you to say… “you are not entitled to learn this because of this, because you’re this… And this is your job, this is who you’re going to be for the rest of your life”… My children are facing a lot of hostility, they get reprimanded a lot because they speak up… I’ve always told them they have to question.
Reed-Sandoval is the executive producer of an APA-funded documentary about the program, which you can watch to learn more about it: