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Friday, June 6, 2014

Incorporating Philosophy in Early Childhood

I took a class in college called "The Meaning of Life". I thought I was being a scholar and expanding my horizons by taking a philosophy course. That class was one of the most BORING classes I've ever taken. It met Tues and Thurs for an hour and a half. For me, it was one of those classes where I really, really tried not to fall asleep-you know where your head bobs a little bit and you catch yourself. Can't tell you anything I learned in that class.

Fast forward to today. I work with Kinder and 1st Grade level kiddos. And we do incorporate philosophy into our daily lessons and I try to make it more exciting for them. I start with general discussions. The thing young kids have to overcome, is trying to figure out what the right answer is-"what does she want to hear?". I might play devil's advocate and turn the situation around and automatically the response is "you are right, that's right". It takes practice to get to the point where they understand discussion can include (and should include) differing views. The trick is being able to back up your assertions. If you are really interested in how to do this, read up on Socratic Seminars. It's something I try after we have the basic groundwork of discussion in place (I do not have success with every class). But it can be a really powerful tool-even with the young kiddos.

I also include questions along those lines in their writing. One day I will ask them to write: what is the meaning of life, can there be love without hate/good without evil, do we have control over our fate or what is truth really? I LOVE seeing what answers they come up with! There is some deep thinking going on in those little brains.

This year we discovered the Kids Philosophy Slam    http://www.philosophyslam.org/ through Terri's blog: http://engagetheirminds.wordpress.com/ . They have a contest each year for kids to answer a different question. This year's was "what has a greater impact on society-truth or beauty?" 95% of my kids wrote truth (that is what is more important in their world at this age-everything and everyone are beautiful at this time in their lives). One of my students won a prize!!!! We are beyond thrilled. She won $10 which I know probably doesn't sound like much-but to a 7-year old, a check in her name-that's HUGE! Not to mention the notoriety with her classmates. I wish I had taken pics of their entries so I could share them with you, but I don't think I remembered to this time, if I did I can't find them.

Something to consider incorporating in your daily discussions. Some of the questions, I don't even know if I would know how to answer, but I do know they will be ready for their first philosophy class in college! :)



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