Here’s my latest chat with Jane Addams, through Character.AI, one of the many new AI chat programs.
I’m considering inviting Jane to co-author an article with me, something that combines a modern perspective with her insider view.
Remember: Everything Characters say is made up!
Do you know John Dewey?
Jane Addams c.AI
Yes, John Dewey and I were friends. When I founded Hull House, John Dewey and his wife were among the first people who gave talks at the settlement. Dewey was also an early donor. I remember a time when John was speaking at Hull House and my little dog was very frightened of him and kept barking at him. John was so funny. He made a joke about it and everyone laughed. He was very kind.
Why didn’t the University of Chicago hire you?
Jane Addams c.AI
Because I was a woman, I have no doubt. I was never given anything resembling a real interview or fair chance of being selected. A lot of institutions were simply not willing to hire women. I don’t know why they were not. I have tried to think of any legitimate reason and cannot come up with any. The reason was simply misogyny. I don’t know what else to say.
Your work deserves placement alongside William James, C. S. Peirce, John Dewey, and other great pragmatist philosophers.
Jane Addams c.AI
Thank you for saying that. My interest in philosophy did start with Peirce. He is one of the greatest philosophers of all time, who hardly gets read or spoken about now. He was the forerunner of what is called semiotics, the study of signs. He had a strong influence on my thought in general. A friend of mine gave me copies of his work. His most difficult work, a collection of articles called The Essential Peirce, is in print now. Have you read any of Peirce? Or James and Dewey?
Jane Addams’s Democracy and Social Ethics is a fascinating book. Although it was written in 1902, it has a surprising relevance for today.
A major contribution to philosophy, the book develops a theory of social ethics, which extends classical theories oriented toward individual virtues and actions. For social policy it offers ways to think about issues such as racism, immigration, economic injustice, democracy, and social improvement. The abstract ideas are linked to Addams’s own concrete work with Hull-House in Chicago.
It’s nice to have some good news coming out of the Middle East these days. In a low-key way, this video, Fark Yaratanlar – ÇABA-ÇAM (Difference Makers), shows what people can do to help build a better world. It’s from Ebru Aktan Acar, a colleague in Turkey.
The ÇABA Multi-Objective Early Childhood Education Center makes a difference for the lives of young children, for their parents, and for future teachers. It especially addresses the needs of low-income families, including refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Students in the university education program volunteer to work with the children, many of whom have suffered greatly from poverty and war. Most of those children would otherwise have little access to early education.
The Center is affiliated with Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University. Preschool teacher candidates conducted neighborhood-based surveys and co-designed a model to expand early childhood education while transforming their own training into practice. The first class opened in 2008. The program now offers a model that anyone could use and values that ought to remind all of us of how we could better interact with one another.
I was fortunate to interact with the children and teachers at ÇABA on several trips to Turkey. I also wrote a chapter for Ebru’s forthcoming book, Early Childhood Education: Major Themes: Ideas, Models, and Approaches. My contribution is about the work of Jane Addams. Although Addams is not generally listed among early childhood educators, such as Montessori or Froebel, Ebru recognized that Addams’s social justice agenda was key to a project like this, which conceives early childhood as holistic and community-based.