Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Little Big Minds: Philosophy

"The word 'philosphy' means: love of wisdom.  Inspired by a sense of wonder and countless questions, philosophers investigate life...children have such questions in mind from a very early age, and philosophy is their chance to go exploring." 
-Marietta McCarty, Little Big Minds

I began this blog series last week pertaining to an AMAZING book titles Little Big Minds by Marietta McCarty.  You can read the introductory post here : Philosophy for Kids

Topic: The word philosophy means “love of wisdom.”  McCarty explains how philosophers like to investigate life.  Children are perfect for this since they are always asking questions and have a natural curiosity.  Along with discussion questions, McCarty offers some resources to teach the topic. These are three of Emily Dickinson’s poems and the story The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery.
The Philosophers: McCarty discussed two main philosophers for this section, Socrates and Plato.  Plato was a pupil of Socrates and his writings show how his and Socrates’ philosophies blended together.  One story that McCarty reads to her students is Plato’s “Myth of the Cave.”  This is a story explaining to children how important it is to live with wonder and curiosity, otherwise you are a prisoner to the thought of ideas.  Another resource that McCarty connects to the story is to play “Haydn’s Symphony No. 22” while they are drawing a picture that comes to mind while listening.  As they are drawing children are discussing why this symphony is titled “The Philosopher.” 
The Examined Life: McCarty emphasizes the importance to children on acknowledging that we don’t know a lot of things.  She also explains that it is just as important to wonder about things we may never find the “answer” to.  This can be explored by reading to students the poem, “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams and then having them write their own poem inspired by these thoughts.
Good Conversation:  “I compare philosophers to jugglers who, rather than keeping many balls in the air, instead hold many ideas in their minds during philosophical conversation” (McCarty, 2006).  Children learn that conversation, talking through ideas is more important than who gets the last word.  An exercise that can be done with this topic is taste tasting with mustard and pretzels.  McCarty has the students report in one word how they would describe it.  Children are then able to compare their opinion with others and realize the differences but accept them at the same time.  

What does the topic of exploring philosophy mean to you?  Please share your experiences if you dive into this with your students!

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