Philosophy for Children

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound on 21/02/2012.

Introducing primary school children to philosophical conversations can help to raise their IQ levels and improve their concentration, according to one expert.

Teacher Ciara Williams told the Irish Times how a pilot scheme designed to engage youngsters in “thinking time” has been part of the weekly curriculum at St Benedict’s school in Ongar, Dublin, for the past 12 months.

According to the educator, encouraging five and six-year-olds to discuss abstract topics can help to improve “higher order thinking skills” and accept each other’s view points.

“Thinking time gives the children the space to have different opinions and for that to be okay among their peers,” Ms Williams remarked.

Dr Philomena Donnelly, lecturer in early childhood education at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, claimed people who do well in school are those who good abstract thinkers and so it is important to encourage critical discussions among youngsters.

According to the Philosophy Foundation, critical thinking helps children to become more thoughtful and reflective, which are skills needed to allow them to participate in society more independently.

As stated in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

“In the United States, philosophy typically makes its formal entry into the curriculum at the college level. A growing number of high schools offer some introduction to philosophy, often in special literature courses for college bound students. In Europe and many other countries, it is much more common to find philosophy in the high school curriculum. However, philosophy prior to high school seems relatively uncommon around the world. This may suggest that serious philosophical thinking is not for pre-adolescents. Two reasons might be offered for accepting this view. First, philosophical thinking requires a level of cognitive development that, one may believe, is beyond the reach of pre-adolescents. Second, the school curriculum is already crowded; and introducing a subject like philosophy will not only distract students from what they need to learn, it may encourage them to become skeptics rather than learners. However, both of these reasons can be challenged.” Read the rest of the article here:

Finally, check out these philosophy links: – This website is dedicated to helping adults conduct philosophical discussion with and among elementary school children. Contrary to what many people think, young children are both interested in and good at discussing philosophical questions. Picture books are a great way to initiate a philosophical discussion with young children and this site will help you get started. – K-12 philosophy lessons, activities, literature, and other resources from the Northwest Center for Philosophy for Children. Note: All of the picture books and most of the chapter books can be used to inspire philosophy discussions with a wide variety of age groups. – “The School of Thought: Philosophy Students Expand the Minds of High Schoolers,” by Malak Hamwi (February 6, 2006). An article about George Washington University’s High School Philosophy Seminar. – Resources, links, and a free Parent’s Guide to help you have engaging conversations with your children, or to learn about philosophy yourself.

You might also be interested in the following books:

Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Children’s Literature

Philosophy for Kids : 40 Fun Questions That Help You Wonder About Everything!

The Examined Life: Advanced Philosophy for Kids

Philosophy for Teens: Questioning Life’s Big Ideas

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