Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through by Thomas E. Wartenberg

By Thomas E. Wartenberg

Written in a transparent and available sort, this ebook explains why it is very important let youngsters entry to philosophy in the course of primary-school educations.For additional info, stopover at www.teachingchildrenphilosophy.org

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Extra info for Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Children's Literature

Sample text

In the classroom, children generally vie with one another for their teacher’s attention and pay little attention to what their classmates say. Adults hear what children say, but often fail to really listen to them, to consider what they really are saying or asking. One of the great virtues of doing philosophy with children is that it forces you to listen to them. It’s a skill my students have to learn, in part because their own anxieties about being in a classroom make it difficult for them to really listen to what the children are saying.

If anything is a philosophical question, this is, for no other discipline sees it as a real issue for it to settle. But philosophers do. And it’s also a question that comes up in most people’s lives at some time or other, say when they’ve just woken from a particularly convincing dream and are puzzled by whether what they thought just happened really did. The crucial feature that makes this a philosophical question is that there is no established discipline—other than philosophy itself—to turn to in deciding how to find an answer to it.

The role of the teacher as facilitator is exactly analogous to that of the umpire: determining when a rule has been broken and stepping in to call a “penalty” that gets the game back on track. What, then, are the essential rules for, or elements of, a philosophical discussion? As I’ve said, I think there are six basic ones, and they all stipulate appropriate responses that can be made at a given stage in the discussion. Don’t forget that in addition to his role as facilitator, the teacher actually has another role: He also initiates the discussion by reading the story and asking a question.

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