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"It is the mission of Harwood Union High School to provide an educational and creative environment in which every person is valued as an individual, challenged as a learner and inspired to contribute to a democratic society. As a professional learning organization of all academic departments, we are prepared to work together in order to provide a unique and personalized learning experience for all students."

Community Socrates Café

How Do We Balance Freedom & Security in our Democracy?

With Christopher Phillips, author of Socrates Café: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy

Monday, November 13th, 6 - 8 PM
Harwood Uniom High School Library
Open to the Community
Refreshments Provided

Christopher Phillips, internationally known philosopher and author of bestseller Socrates Café, his latest work The Philosophy of Childing: Unlocking Creativity, Curiosity and Reason through the Wisdom of our Youngest, and other popular works, will be at Harwood Union High School on November 13th as part of Harwood’s popular Socrates Café Community gatherings.  

Harwood Union began these popular Socratic dialogues seven years ago, where participants are encouraged to listen to each other and to learn from one another.  Philosophy and Three Democracies teacher and Rowland Fellow, Katherine Cadwell began to investigate how Socratic dialogue and student driven discussions can transform teaching and learning.  

The Socrates Cafes are based on Christopher Phillips’ ideas in his first book, Socrates Café.  This idea, that people learn more when they question, came out of Phillips’ frustration back in 1996, in a time of growing polarization and intolerance when he began these gatherings open to anyone who wanted to engage in a quest to gain a better understanding of human nature.  These open-invitation meetings at cafes and other public places were based on a question.

Cadwell has taken that premise of “open to all” with the desire to build school and community partnerships.  Last winter The Joslin Memorial Library hosted the first school/community partnership with the question “Why are we so afraid of people who are different?”  Last spring the Waterbury Public Library hosted the second, with the question “Does Privacy Matter in our Country Today?”  

This time both the Joslin Memorial Library and the Waterbury Public Library join forces with Harwood Union with the timeless and timely question “How do we Balance Freedom and Security in our Country today?”  What makes a good question Cadwell explained is having the question be both “timeless and timely”.  The universality of the question is important in that it can relate to all people. Both Cadwell and Phillips say, you know a discussion has been a success when you come away with more questions than when you started with.  Cadwell states that the sign of a good discussion is when you walk away incomplete and want more.

This form of discourse where listening is key, the beginner’s mind is encouraged and the focus is on questions not answers, comes from Socrates, who observed that “wisdom begins in wonder”. These gatherings are open to all members of the community, regardless of age, experience or background. Phillips will kick off the evening and folks will break off into small groups where Harwood students who are experienced in leading Socratic Dialogues will facilitate the discussions.  The event will take place in the Harwood Library beginning at six o’clock.  After small group discussions, the groups will reconvene to debrief and summarize.  Refreshments will be offered at the end of the evening.

Dr. Christopher Phillips has been a Network Fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, and was a 2012 recipient of the Distinguished American Leadership Award.  He is the founder of Democracy Cafe, and a recent Senior Education Fellow at the National Constitution Center, as well as senior writing and research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Phillips is a roving ambassador for spearheading initiatives that create more open, inclusive and connected societies. As such, he travels the world over holding dialogues with people of all walks of life. He believes that the process of dialogue and the space of human interaction are good for us as individuals and essential for us as a society. A primary goal of the noted author, nonprofit thought leader, educator and consultant, who is a popular presenter who blogs at, and Huffington Post, among others — is to inspire curiosity and wonder, to nurture self-discovery, openness and  empathy.


This Socrates Café is co-sponsored by the Harwood Library, the Joslin Memorial Library, and the Waterbury Public Library.  For more information contact:  Katherine Cadwell, HUHS at [email protected] ,  Joy Worland, Joslin Memorial Library at [email protected] or Judi Byron, Waterbury Public Library at [email protected]