Friday, August 17, 2012

Philosophy for Kids

"Little Big Minds is an invitation to discover philosophy and to consider how we as adults can most effectively share this subject with children...I can tell you kids are natural philosophers.  They approach philosophical topics with great big minds that are uncluttered by the baggage that can accumulate as one gets older."  -Marietta McCarty

Recently, for a graduate class I was assigned to read the book Little Big Minds by Marietta McCarty.  Now,  at first I was skeptical about teaching elementary students through middle students about the topic of philosophy, but as I dug into this book I was enthralled!  It makes so much sene to discuss these topics with students to expand their thinking, our thinking, and building relationships in the process.  In the next few blog posts, I will be exploring a select few chapters that I know will interest you.  If these interest you as much as they did for me, I challenge you to purchase this book and share with me an adventure in philosophy with kids!

MariettaMcCarty has the belief that children are the best philosophers.  Thinking about the world around them andquestioning things is a natural part of their growth.  McCarty takes advantage of this and beginstalking about Philosophical topics with children ranging from Kindergarten toMiddle School.  In this book, McCartyoffers 15 topics, and each one has its’ own chapter:

  In each chapters she shares a theme, philosophers, and discussions that all connect with that chapter’s topic.  She does a wonderful job of offering teaching tips, discussion questions, exercises, and a list of resources to be used.  An important piece of advice McCarty offersis to be aware of your students and what they can handle, or want to discuss. 
Teaching Techniques:  McCarty offers a brief description of some teaching techniques to make your “Philosophy Time” more beneficial for you and your students.  First and foremost she offers two rules:

  • Never speak when someone else is talking.
  • Never make fun of what someone says.
These two rules show how McCarty makes sure to make this time a safe place for students to share and to open their minds with no limits.  A few other techniques she offers are:

  • Sit in a circle
  • Start with quiet time
  • Include a brief story with each lesson
  • Pay attention to children’s comfort level
  • Be prepared with definitions
  • Clarify meanings
  • Avoid generalizations/projections
  • Discuss reasons for assignments
  • Participate without doing the assignment for them
  • Give a sense of completion
  • Use a variety of mediums (art, music, poetry, literature)
  •  Connect philosophy to their lives
FFor more information on this book and the author visit:

Have I peaked your interest yet?  Stay tuned for a selection of chapter summaries in future blog posts!

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