Wondering Aloud: Philosophy With Young People

Inception

The 2010 film Inception is a philosophically provocative film that’s been very popular with teenagers. The film is about an “extractor,” Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), someone who is able to take ideas out of people’s minds when they are dreaming and at their most vulnerable. On the run from the authorities, Cobb is hired by […]

Is hatred important?

I had a marvelous philosophy session with a fourth grade class at Whittier Elementary School yesterday, in which we read the chapter of E.B. White’s Stuart Little in which Stuart becomes an elementary school substitute teacher for a day. In the chapter, Stuart asks the class to reflect on what the “important things” are. After […]

Is this really philosophy?

“. . . That slight uncertaintywhich makes us sure.” From Advice from the Museby Richard Wilbur The start of the school year and planning for the year’s philosophy classes. Usually I start my philosophy classes by asking students to offer some possible answers to the question, “What is philosophy?” (Of course there is no incontestable […]

January

Just Now In the morning as the storm begins to blow awaythe clear sky appears for a moment and it seems to methat there has been something simpler than I could ever believesimpler than I could have begun to find words fornot patient not even waiting no more hiddenthan the air itself that became part […]

January

The Snow Man One must have a mind of winterTo regard the frost and the boughsOf the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long timeTo behold the junipers shagged with ice,The spruces rough in the distant glitter Of the January sun; and not to thinkOf any misery in the sound of the […]

July

Let Evening Come Let the light of late afternoonshine through chinks in the barn, movingup the bales as the sun moves down. Let the cricket take up chafingas a woman takes up her needlesand her yarn. Let evening come. Let dew collect on the hoe abandonedin long grass. Let the stars appearand the moon disclose […]

June

ochikochi ni taki no otokiku wakaba kana fresh young leaves –the sound of a waterfallboth far and near Yosa Buson June Birthdays June 5 Charles Hartshorne (American, born 1897) and Adam Smith (Scottish, born 1723) June 6 Isaiah Berlin (British, born 1909) June 9 Nikolai Fedorovich Fedorov (Russian, born 1829) June 14 Bernard Bosanquet (British, […]

Listening to Our Children

Somewhat frequently I receive email messages or other communications from parents asking me about how to introduce philosophy into their conversations with their children. The main advice I give people is to listen for the philosophical questions kids ask. I don’t believe that bringing philosophical dialogue into your relationships with your children is about teaching […]

Loveykins

In this picture book by former British Children’s Laureate Quentin Blake, after a very windy night Angela finds a baby bird who has fallen from his nest. She takes him home and cares for him, feeding him, bundling him in warm blankets so he doesn’t catch cold, and naming him Augustus. She buys a stroller […]

March

Between What I See and What I Say. . .for Roman Jakobson 1Between what I see and what I say,between what I say and what I keep silent,between what I keep silent and what I dream,between what I dream and what I forget:poetry.It slipsbetween yes and no,sayswhat I keep silent,keeps silentwhat I say,dreamswhat I forget.It […]

May

From BlossomsFrom blossoms comesthis brown paper bag of peacheswe bought from the boyat the bend in the road where we turned towardsigns painted Peaches. From laden boughs, from hands,from sweet fellowship in the bins,comes nectar at the roadside, succulentpeaches we devour, dusty skin and all,comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat. O, to […]

Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust — Blog Series Part II

This morning I taught the second class of the “Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust” unit to two eighth grade classes. This class is an introduction to moral philosophy, a way to give the students some background before we launch into the issues raised by the Holocaust. We began by talking about Plato’s Ring of Gyges […]

Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust: Blog Series Part I

I spent the morning last Friday with two eighth grade classes in the first sessions of a unit I teach every year on “Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust.” I teach the unit with Jane Orme, the eighth grade language arts teacher at Liberty Bell Junior High School, and over the past four years we have […]

Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust: Blog Series Part III

When Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, Jane Elliott, a third grade teacher in Iowa, decided to implement an exercise in her classroom to help her students understand racism and discrimination. She divided the class into students with brown eyes and students with blue eyes, and spent one day discriminating against the brown-eyed students […]

Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust: Blog Series Part IV

Why do people obey authority even when they sense that what they’re doing is wrong? Central to the conditions that allowed the Holocaust to occur was people’s tendencies to conform to the situations in which they find themselves. In this class we watch a clip from the film Obedience, which documents the Milgram experiments. In […]

Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust: Blog Series Part VI

Why did some people become rescuers during the Holocaust? What makes some people, despite the risks, act to prevent moral wrongs? Is being a bystander morally wrong? In this class we see the film The Courage to Care, involving profiles of individuals during the Third Reich who helped protect Jews in France, Holland and Poland. […]

Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust: Blog Series Part VII

Can one person make a difference? The last class for the Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust unit involves watching the film Not in Our Town, which describes a series of hate crimes that took place in Billings, Montana, in the 1990s, and the town’s reaction to these events. The people in the town really came […]

New Book!

I have had a number of inquiries recently about this blog and the time lapse since my last post. I have not been posting since the spring because I been working on a new book, which will be out this month! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1442234784/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1442234784&linkCode=as2&tag=stehac-20&linkId=XAF3AVY3FUZIQB6I I hope to return to posting more regularly in 2016. Happy holidays to […]

Northwest Center for Philosophy for Children Grant and Summer Workshop

Center for Philosophy for Children just received a three-year grant from the Squire Family Foundation! The grant funds a summer workshop for teachers that will take place this June, and also provides money for graduate student involvement in the program, materials and website support, and three years of transportation for UW students to get to and from […]

November

My November Guest My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,Thinks these dark days of autumn rainAre beautiful as days can be;She loves the bare, the withered tree;She walks the sodden pasture lane. Her pleasure will not let me stay.She talks and I am fain to list:She’s glad the birds are gone away,She’s glad her simple […]

November

During Wind and Rain They sing their dearest songs–He, she, all of them–yea,Treble and tenor and bass.And one to play;With the candles mooning each face….Ah, no; the years O!How the sick leaves reel down in throngs! They clear the creeping moss–Elders and juniors–aye,Making the pathways neatAnd the garden gay;And they build a shady seat….Ah, no; […]

October

To Autumn Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel […]

October birthdays

October 1 Catharine MacKinnon (American, born 1946) October 4 Richard Rorty (American, born 1931) October 14 Hannah Arendt (German, born 1906) October 15 Friedrich Nietzsche (German, born 1844) and Michel Foucault (French, born 1926) October 18 Henri Bergson (French, born 1859) October 20 John Dewey (American, born 1859) October 29 A. J. Ayer (British, born […]

Online Philosophy for Children course

The Institute for the Advancement for Philosophy for Children, in Montclair, New Jersey, is offering a fall online class on “Teaching Children Philosophical Thinking.” Here is the description of the class: This innovative course prepares teachers and philosophers to facilitate philosophical dialogue with children and adolescents, in classroom settings and elsewhere. The course is suitable […]

Online Philosophy Resources

People often ask me about finding philosophy resources online. There is now a multiplicity of online resources available for free — online philosophy classes, lectures, materials, etc. This is a sampling: http://www.epistemelinks.com/index.aspx (thousands of links to philosophy audio and video, course materials and other philosophy resources) http://broodsphilosophy.wordpress.com/2006/06/15/online-videos-of-philosophical-lectures/ (list of online videos of various philosophy lectures) […]

Out of My Mind

Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind is the story of eleven-year-old Melody, born with cerebral palsy and unable to walk, talk, feed herself, or take care of any of her basic needs. Doctors, many teachers, and a host of other adults assume she is incapable of learning, but Melody is highly intelligent and thoughtful, with […]

Pezzettino

Leo Lionni’s Pezzettino is the story of the small Pezzettino (which means “little piece” in Italian), who is a small orange square surrounded by other beings who are all made up of many different-colored squares. Pezzettino observes that everyone around him is “big and [does] daring and wonderful things.” He concludes that he must be […]

Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization

The 2012-13 school year is off to an energetic start! For teachers and others interested in learning about doing philosophy with children, the new national organization I’ve been involved in founding, PLATO (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization), is now accepting members. Click here more more information on the organization and membership: http://plato-philosophy.org We are holding a […]

Picture Books and Aesthetics

I write a lot about picture books and the role they can play in encouraging children to develop their philosophical thinking. I’ve been thinking about the special role of picture books for inspiring inquiry about aesthetics. Picture books are a unique mixture of literature and visual art, and generate the discovery of meaning through a […]

PLATO

After almost two years of work, the new national organization for pre-college philosophy in the US, PLATO (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization), has been born! PLATO is a national support, advocacy and resource-sharing organization for teachers, parents, philosophers and others involved in teaching philosophy to pre-college students. Launched by the Committee on Pre-College Instruction in […]

Poem

The World But Seems To BeThe world but seems to beyet is nothing morethan a line drawnbetween light and shadow.Decipher the messageof this dream-scriptand learn to distinguish timefrom Eternity. — Fakhruddin ‘Iraqi (Fakhr al-din Ibrahim) English translation by William Chittick and Peter Lamborn Wilson

Puzzles about Ethics

A couple of years ago I created a series of ethics puzzles to introduce various moral questions to two fourth grade classes. I adapted some of these scenarios from puzzles created by others and made up the rest. I found that formulating dilemmas that would be easily recognizable to ten-year-old students was an effective way […]

Really, Really BIG Questions

The picture book Really, Really BIG Questions by British philosophy professor Stephen Law is an engaging introduction to philosophy for anyone from elementary school age through middle school. With drawings and information about science, history, literature and the history of philosophy, the book explores questions such as: How can something come from nothing? What is […]

Science Fair and Ethics

Yesterday I showed up in the fifth grade classroom in which I’ve been teaching, prepared to talk with the students about whether you can get something form nothing, whether everything has a beginning, and related questions. When I arrived, the class informed me that they had just had a discussion about an ethical problem related […]

September

The Railway Children When we climbed the slopes of the cuttingWe were eye-level with the white cupsOf the telegraph poles and the sizzling wires. Like lovely freehand they curved for milesEast and miles west beyond us, saggingUnder their burden of swallows. We were small and thought we knew nothingWorth knowing. We thought words travelled the […]

Showing Up for Your Friends

Children’s points of view and ideas have changed the way I think about many subjects. Friendship is one of them. I think that children’s thoughts and observations regarding friendship are particularly insightful because friendship is so central in their lives. Especially once they begin school, children spend most of their waking hours with their peers, much more […]

Silence and Philosophy

The traditional model for philosophy sessions in schools involves verbal communication, typically in the form of large group conversations, often in a circle. While this method of leading philosophy sessions has much to offer, not every student is immediately comfortable with this approach. The larger the class size, for example, the more challenging this model […]

Soap! Soap! Don’t Forget the Soap!

Soap! Soap! Don’t Forget the Soap! is an Appalachian folktale, brought to life in a great read-aloud picture book by Tom Birdseye with illustrations by Andrew Glass. The story’s main character, Pug, is a young boy “with such a poor memory some say he’d forget his own name.” One day Pug’s mother, who believes in […]

Summer philosophy seminar for high school teachers

For the first time this summer, there will be a teaching and learning seminar for high school teachers at the American Association of Philosophy Teachers (AAPT) Conference. The seminar will be funded by the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization (PLATO), the American Philosophical Association (APA), and AAPT. The AAPT Conference is a well-regarded biennial family-friendly event […]