Welcome to Philosophy for Children at Tufts. In the spring term of 2018, I offered a new course on teaching philosophy to young children. A group of eleven undergraduates and I spent time thinking about the value of philosophy for children and then the students developed lesson plans for children in the kindergarten and joint first and second grade classes at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School on the Tufts campus. http://www.ase.tufts.edu/epcs/
Philosophy is often seen as intellectually inaccessible to children and hence most students are not introduced to the subject until they reach college. Yet children are naturally curious and ask philosophical questions starting at a very young age. They wonder about what makes a real friend, the purpose of life, whether what they do is morally right or wrong, whether the rules they are asked to follow are fair, and so on. However, the pressures of formal education do not always encourage children’s natural curiosity and it sometimes seems that a higher value is placed on test scores and knowledge than on inquiry, understanding, and respectful dialogue among students with diverse opinions. Studies have shown that engaging K-12 students in philosophical inquiry and encouraging them to provide reasons and evidence to support their claims has many benefits. It enhances academic performance, improves creative and critical thinking skills, and prepares students to be thoughtful, engaged citizens.
The Tufts students in the course were divided into four teams, two of which worked with the kindergartners, one with the first graders, and one with the second graders. Each team developed lesson plans investigating questions about metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics. For the final visit to Eliot-Pearson, the teams chose a topic they thought would be interesting. The students from both Tufts and Eliot-Pearson all enjoyed this work! The lesson plans are compiled here along with reflections on each. In another section, you can find some of the final projects for the course.
Please take a look around and feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments.
Susan Russinoff, Ph.D.
Department of Philosophy