Reading the world, reading the word: why Not now, Bernard is not a case of suicide, but self-killing
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Philosophical teaching gives permission to learners to explore the meaning of texts by drawing on their own experiences. By thinking out loud, they construct new meanings of texts. As a result of this oral work, what texts mean shifts in the unique relationship between text and reader and include child’s voice. If educators nurture children’s competencies and abilities in interrogating texts philosophically, their ability to read against texts will not only be strengthened, but the reading experience itself will also be transformative – but neither in the sense that South African educator Jonathan Jansen suggests, nor as proposed by Critical Literacy. Philosophical teaching assumes a relationship of ‘emptying’, not ‘filling’, and a conscious effort from the teacher to resist the urge to regard education as a formation of childhood. My argument will be supported by a transcript of a dialogue I facilitated with nine-year-olds discussing Bernard’s apparent suicide in David McKee’s picturebook Not now Bernard.