Philosophy for Children
Kids are natural ponderers — they want to talk about the big questions: Where did the world come from? What happens when people (and pets) die? Is it ever okay to litter? Why are some people so mean?
But the grade school curriculum, built on some defunct ideas of how children think, shies away from the big questions.
What a waste.
Our basic plan:
Always, always invite kids to pose questions about things that matter.
When we read children's literature, give students a chance to determine what they want to talk about. (E.g. after reading Frog and Toad, they might want to talk about what a true friend is.)
When we tell an epic history story, plan a great philosophical question to dive into. (E.g. after hearing about Confucianism and Taoism, ask which philosophy works for their families.)
Our kids will be bold in asking their own questions, and in looking for answers. We can turn our schools into the marketplace of ancient Athens.
walking into Our classrooms, you might see:
Kids gathered in a circle, avidly discussing some important life question; others quiet, deep in thought.
Kids challenging each other's conclusions, and struggling to explain their thoughts.
Teachers not answering these big questions so much as guiding the students to think about them more clearly.
Kids excited to take the questions home and ask parents and other family members what they think!
What questions — if any — are out-of-bounds in grade school?
(This idea is currently in beta! If you've thoughts on how to make it better, please shoot an e-mail to Brandon at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
To Learn More:
Google "philosophy for children", and discover the world-wide community of teachers and academics who have been exploring this approach, and devising curriculum.