Philosophy for Children

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Introducing philosophy to children is a very controversial subject. Michael S.

Pritchard, the author of Reasonable Children, explores the concept of introducing

philosophy to children within the schools before they enter their college years. Pritchard

assumed that the study of philosophy should begin at a college level. At the start of this

assignment my first reaction was similar to Pritchard’s, philosophy starts during the

college years. I could never imagine discussing this higher level thinking with children. I

believe that we all use philosophy throughout our lifetime without even knowing we are.

To question one thoughts, to think deep into situations, and to re-evaluate your choices

are all human nature. Children are instilled with this from birth. With all that said, to limit

it to a label (philosophy) is another task.

Pritchard has brought an excellent point stating that the curriculum is already

overcrowded as is. Why bring into this controversial subject of philosophy into the

classrooms. “Besides, Philosophy is a “troublemaker” he says. This is not so much true in

my eyes. Philosophy offers many positive aspects to life. It challenges us as humans to

think outside the normal realm of situations. It helps us grow as a person and think about

why we performed a certain task or why we made a certain choice. Yes, the curriculum is

very crowded that is true. Instead of us focusing on teaching philosophy as a total

separate subject, why not try to embed philosophy throughout each subject. Have

children think beyond the subject they are being taught. Hold discussions that let them

explore their minds on what they are learning. I am sure that by doing this you as an

educator will learn more about your children than you ever thought you would.

This will broaden the horizons of children’s thoughts. I agree with Lipman,

and that philosophy shines. He states that if schools should foster this critical thinking and

how would this task be accomplished. I played with this thought for a little while in my

head. Do we really want our children to think at this higher level? To question authority in

many aspects? Of course we do not want to be disrespected by the children, but if they

question authority and they are true and respectful with their sayings. Then why not, they

are our future. Our children can then “wonder about wondering, how planning is different

from guessing, how doubting is related to believing, and so on (33).

Pritchard was introduced to a Harry Stottlemeier, a fictional creation of

philosopher Matthew Lipman (31). Lipman is the director of the Institute for the

Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC). Harry and his fifth grade friends are

responsible for introducing actual children to philosophy. Throughout chapter three,

Philosophy for Children, we see how big of an influence Lipmans novel has been. Within

the ninety-six pages, Harry and all his friends use their own concepts and rules that

mirror Aristotle’s syllogistic logic. They explore the “concern to look at all sides of a issue,

to think consistently, to work out the implications of statements, to give reasons for what

they think rather than simply assert opinions, and to examine assumptions”. What

intrigue me with this is that the children did not ask or depend on adults to set their daily

schedule. The IAPC has a program called “community of inquiry” that you as a reader

will see the class convert to this. This program each student is encouraged to give reasons

to support whatever they do and say and to evaluate the view of others. How often do

people in general give support to their reasoning on situations. Through the IAPC

program children are taught to think outside of the box and to hold valid conversations

with their classmates. You see within...
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