I LOVE this idea.
The NY Times ran a story last week about a new program at a Massachusetts charter school teaching 2nd graders philosophy.
There are not learning the nuances of the different techniques of philosophers. What they are doing is learning how to have open ended discussions about debatable ideas. So much of school is learning the right answer to a specific question. We are taught at a very young age to figure out what the teacher wants us to say, and then to say it.
Even critical thinking is just a mask for “critically thinking the way the teacher wants you to think”. Giving 7 year old children an opportunity to free-think about an idea is amazing.
Each session the group is read a story. After the story is over, they are asked what their thoughts are on particular subjects.
For example after reading The Giving Tree the students were asked to think about how we should treat natural resources. And they were allowed to disagree in classic philosophical format.
I would love to see this in more schools.
The reading list includes:
- The Giving Tree
- Frog and Toad Together
- Morris the Moose
- Emily’s Art
I recommend reading the NY Times article here: The Examined Life, Age 8
I also recommend one of my favorite Monty Python bits of all time. The Philosophers Play Soccer: