Twenty-three small faces appear on the computer screen. Some smile, some gesticulate, and others seek the teacher's support, hiding somewhere in the classroom, with a shy look. Some, despite having connected from their room, have dressed up in their school uniform for the occasion. "This year we have lost the joy of seeing you around the Faculty of Philosophy, but we are lucky to have, for the first time, our Latin American colleagues", begins the director of the Innovation and Research Group for the Teaching of Philosophy (IREF Group), Glòria Arbonès.
The coronavirus crisis has forced the cancellation of the philosophical debate meeting for children that has been taking place for the last seven years in Barcelona. As an alternative, a connection has been organized between the different projects of the Ibero-American Network of Virtual Communities in Philosophy for Children. Arbonès welcomes, together with the director of Barcelona Pensa, José Díez, the children of 5th grade of primary school who participate in this unusual online edition from Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Spain. Each one shows an object that represents them to introduce themselves to the group: "I have brought a book about one hundred important women throughout history because I want to be the president of my country and that is how I get inspired," says 11-year-old Hanna with conviction. For one hour she and the other participants will create a community of discussion about the effects of the pandemic around the world. They all speak from an experience that still has a huge impact on their daily lives.
"The virus affects us all equally, we get sick in the same way and we use the same means of health protection," says Eduardo from Cancun. Even so, depending on the culture and individual responsibility, the response from each place has been different: "I know of a country where the leaders say that the virus will not kill us, that what will kill us is fear," replies Lucas. "It's when we talk about measures and not the pandemic that there are differences. Here in Mexico I can't leave my house and I've been having classes online for a long time. In Spain, on the other hand, schools are open," he adds.
Little by little, a consensus is established on how to deal with the global pandemic. Fighting it requires individual responsibility, mutual care, education and actively listening to each other's fears. All this is to learn to live together, avoid prejudices, keep a broad outlook and be aware of each other's limitations, be they economic, social or specific. And, in conclusion, everyone acts differently, but no one does so with intrinsic evil because, in one way or another, "to stay alive means to value life, whether one's own or that of others".
The reflections end with the metaphorical reading of the phases to build a human castle, which each person interprets in their own way. To build and deconstruct arguments, to agree and embrace ideas, to reach a common point or to become aware of the fact that there is never enough time to solve a subject of these dimensions. Perhaps one of the lessons learned from the session was not so much to give recipes on how to deal with such a complicated situation but to know how to deliberate. This is an important learning process, regardless of age.