Philosophy for Children (or ‘P4C’) is a growing movement that promotes a community of inquiry among children as young as three years of age, and has several cognitive benefits, as shown by a number of recent longitudinal studies (e.g. Colom 2014). The benefits have been most pronounced with at-risk students. The method begins with a ‘stimulus’ for discussion, such as Are You My Mother? by Eastman. The facilitator then solicit questions about the text from the children. Students might ask: how did the baby bird know what his mother looked like? If he could tell what his mother looked like, why did he make mistakes? When can you know that you have found what you are looking for? The children decide which questions they should focus on, and then the facilitator then guides discussion on these questions without jargon. After the discussion, the facilitator may recap the discussion, or students may journal about the discussion.
In Summer 2017, I attended the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children’s Summer Workshop, where I received training in facilitating philosophical dialogue for children. In Fall 2017, I am teaching a practical course on Philosophy for Children, focusing on teaching students how to lead a philosophical dialogue. Most importantly, my students are working with children in a local elementary school engaging children in philosophical inquiry for 8 weeks. (See a press release here.) Additionally, I am currently doing Philosophy for Children in my son’s kindergarten class on a weekly basis.
This course is just the beginning of the project. One of my students and I are co-organizing a workshop for March 2018 bringing together long term P4C practitioners, local elementary school teachers, and philosophy students for a day of training, leading to further philosophical activities in local schools.
In Summer 2018, I will be collaborating with Joe Keener (English) to create a summer camp aimed at community of philosophical inquiry for middle-school kids. The week will have a theme and the kids will be creating and performing their own short plays. If you are interested in philosophy summer camps, take a look at Brila’s website (here).
Philosophy for Children Activities and Accomplishments
- Applied and Community Research Center Grant for ‘Humanities Summer Camp’ at Indiana University Kokomo, Spring 2018 ($3,200)
- Humanities Camp for Middle-School Children at Indiana University Kokomo, June 2018 (In collaboration with Howard County Public Library and Prof. Joe Keener, English) (Supported by Indiana Humanities and Kokomo Foundation ~$5000)
- Philosophy for Children Workshop for Local Teachers and Students (In collaboration with Jacob Castleberry, Student) (Supported by Women of the Well House $1000 and Indiana Campus Compact $1250)
- Participant in the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children’s Resident Summer Workshop, August 5-12, 2017
- Philosophy for Children at Elwood Haynes Elementary School, Fall 2017
- Philosophy for Children Pilot at Elwood Haynes and Bon Aire Elementary Schools, Spring 2017