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New Philosophical Inquiry course at Kailua High School

In August of 2013, Ms. Cheriesse Shiroma-Ming, Dr. Amber Strong Makaiau, and Dr. Chad Miller piloted a Philosophical Inquiry curriculum with approximately thirty students at Kailua High School. Hear what this group of students had to say about their experience in the course.

Philosophical Inquiry Student Reflections

October 2013

The amount of thinking done in Philosophical Inquiry was like no other I’ve done. And unlike other classes, I walked away understanding what I’ve learned just through listening and thinking. I will use what I learned in my future by becoming more of a philosopher on life and questioning things with an open mind using the lenses of a philosopher! – Senior Male

Most importantly this class has taught me how to be a more respectful and responsible person. – Senior Female

In the class of Philosophical Inquiry, I learned many different skills that benefit me in many different ways. Philosophical Inquiry is a class that opened up my mind to what’s going on in the world and how people understand and see things (through a philosophical lens) differently. – Senior Male

What I learned in class that will help me with my future is not being afraid to express my thoughts. When I first started this class I felt like what I wanted to say wasn’t right. I felt un-comfortable. After like the third week I actually got the feel of it. I became more and more engaged into expressing my feelings….After thinking about it, this class has been a great experience for me. I learned so much more then what I thought I would… – Senior Female

My first experience in Philosophical inquiry was awesome; my mind was challenged to a whole other level of thinking. I never thought that a class and I could have that much thinking power. – Senior Male


I also learned more about being a community and respecting others around me. Learning to respect others and being a community contributor relates to my life because it will help me grow and earn favor with people. Before I wasn’t a ware of intellectual safety and would just say whatever I wanted to. After this class I’ve learned to respect the learning environment and those in my community. In the real world it’s important to be respectful. If you want to get a job or work for people you need to be respectful and learn to work well with others around you. -Senior Female

I liked the environment of our class, how we had a small group that I felt I could express my feelings to knowing that I wasn’t going to be judged. It was like free counseling for kids who are going through the same things I am. I am glad that I took this class I just wish that it could have been longer because I finally started getting used to doing the work and now its over. – Senior Female


In this class I learned how to think about my thinking…We were taught to annotate text so we could break down readings…[and] then come up with good thinker’s tool kit questions of what we want to know more about. For example we annotated text from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and our Philosophy for Teens article and then made a question. My question was “If technology and needs of consumption keep increasing will the environment keep decreasing.” My question ended up getting picked; it was one of the best discussions this term. – Senior Female

This class also opened my mind to how people understand things differently. We ran through countless topics as a class and had countless amounts of discussions that gave us ways to understand things from different point of view. In the article “Come Closer to Feminism”, (pg.7 by Bell Hooks) it states “Mostly they think feminism is a bunch of angry women who want to be like men.” As a class, we all read the article and shared our own understandings of sexism acts. This helped us understand different points of views because as a class we all shared what we thought “feminism” means. While Pua said that “feminism is the movement to stop sexism,” changed my perspective because I thought feminism was, similar to what Bell Hooks said, a bunch of people wanting to be someone there not. Now not do I only understand feminism, but I also understand that women are being mistreated, and I can play my part by making sure I am a feminist. – Senior Male


I didn’t see the world, people, or things philosophically until I attended this class for the first time. With the skills and the knowledge of the philosophical lens’s I could look at things and text and look at it philosophically which I think is super cool how I could challenge my mind and have a good time all at once. – Senior Male

Even though there are many more skills I learned, one that stood out to me is how different people see through different philosophical lenses….by understanding these philosophical lenses (Logic, political, metaphysics, epistemology, interactions between humans and the environment, social, culture, aesthetics, ethics, and economical) I can relate it to people’s perspectives and opinions to get a better understanding of them from a philosophical point of view. – Senior Male


The “Prompt of the Day” really helped me push the envelope when it comes to thinking. Some of the quotes that we had to reflect on were very complex. A lot of them I had a really hard time understanding but as I continued to try I found myself having an easier time. – Senior Female

The 10 lenses of Philosophical Inquiry has helped me to organize my thoughts. It helped me to pose questions about things and to reflect on my experiences…I guess to connect it to the real world everyone needs to take the time to reflect on the things that are going on in their life because if you don’t you’re going to stress yourself out. – Senior Female

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p4c growing in Sendai Japan

Dr. Mitsuyo Toyoda of the University of Hyogo has helped launch the p4c Sendai Project. Partnering with the Miyagi University of Education and several Sendai elementary and junior high schools, she visits Sendai twice a month, conducting workshops and demonstrating lessons in classrooms. Stay tuned for further developments.


japan kids


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Chad Miller named Hawaii’s 2012 State Teacher of the Year

Chad Miller, an English language arts teacher at Kailua High School, is Hawaii’s 2012 State Teacher of the Year. Governor Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii State Board of Education Chairman Don Horner, and Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi made the announcement this afternoon during a ceremony honoring seven District Teachers of the Year at Washington Place.


On the first day of school, Chad sets clear expectations and creates an environment in which students become active agents in their education.

Drawing from Matthew Lipman’s Philosophy for Children, Chad serves as a facilitator while his students take ownership of their learning. Student inquiry becomes the main driver for English instruction, and every assignment requires students to demonstrate their thinking and reasoning.

For seven years, Chad has conducted workshops to share his effective teaching practices with colleagues. He facilitates reflective meetings where teachers discuss successes, failures, struggles, and frustrations. Teachers emerge from meetings with new lessons, strategies, and reenergized to focus on engaging, relevant, and rigorous instruction.

Chad earned a bachelor’s degree in Arts and a double major in Philosophy and Communications from John Carroll University in Ohio. He holds a master’s of Education in Teaching Secondary English from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he is currently pursuing a doctorate in Educational Foundations.

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