How to flourish as a ‘child at heart,’ in the best sense — ever more curious, inquisitive, wonder-filled, empathetic — at every age and stage of life, from our bounciest younger years to our years when we are frailer?
The term ‘childing’ first arrived on the scene around 1250 A.D. Collins American dictionary defines it as: “bearing a cluster of newer blossoms around an older blossom.”
Such a rendering, if applied to the human condition, would indicate that there is no shedding of the old as we add the new, but a continual super-adding of the new to the old.
If that’s so, then we need to do all we can to make sure each and every one of us, at every age and stage of life, can unfold in the most optimal ways. Only then can we cultivate and harness throughout our lives our unique capacities for empathy, reason, curiosity, creativity, exploration.
Christopher Phillips’ ‘philosophy of childing’ takes a radically different approach to the traditional boundaries between childhood and adulthood. It asserts that, rather than lapse into adulthood, we can achieve what the Greeks of old called arête—all-around excellence—when we adults look to children and youth as a lodestar for our own development.
The fact is that never before has our culture been as child-centric as it is today — and yet, never before has childhood been as strained and pinched. Its seren- dipity and spontaneity is fast disappearing in our heavily vocationalized, over-scheduled culture. Kids are expected to be adults-in-training and to be thinking about college by the time they’re in third grade. To the extent that we’ve bought into this hyper-utilitarian notion of childhood, we not only do tremendous damage to kids, but to ourselves as well, severely constricting our possibilities for being all that we can be.
If Chris, the founder of the global Socrates Cafe initiative, could boil his philosophy of childing to one sentence, it’s this: Children and adults need each other’s talents and skills equally if each is to develop to the full. As one for-instance, check out his Youtube dialogues with our youngest, and his Facebook page.
If you’d like to take part in a Childing workshop that will guide you to a new path to flourishing, to learn more about Chris’ work, or invite him to speak or give a presentation of some sort (including facilitating dialogues), contact him at: Christopher_Phillips@mac.com