The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 4, 2006

Philosophy of Education

Eduardo H. Flichman
Pages 23-27

The Function of Perplexity

I present one specific way of creating problematic situations: generating perplexity. A teacher with a personal history marked by a struggle to conceptualise the words of the professor or of the book, will have paved his way. The teacher develops his subject clearly. When the students say they understand, it is time to show an apparently paradoxical situation. Perplexity appears. The teacher again explains the subject and all accept again that they understand perfectly. But the difficulty doesn't disappear. The debate begins. The discussion creates murmuring, noise. The perfect moment has arrived. A silent classroom would have meant the teacher's failure. Second step: "rewinding". To go back and look for the failure. The students should discover the failure, helped by the teacher. The second step finishes. Perplexities cannot always be solved, especially in the case of philosophy. When they arise from diverse proposals for a solution, it would be bad teaching to present a single way of solving the problem. Students should know that in these cases the debates are open and the discussion continues. In other cases it is just a conceptual failure in construing the corresponding notion, so the discussion should be closed once the failure is found.