After School Programs: Starting a Philosophy Club
Are you and your students interested in starting up or developing a Philosophy Club?
- Students from elementary through high school can enjoy the opportunity to discuss important issues with one another under the leadership of a teacher or other interested adult.
- Philosophy Clubs can lead to development of a team to send to your regional Ethics Bowl; looks great on college applications!
- Learning to question assumptions, think deeply and articulate your thoughts are the only side effects!
The Philosophy Club Start up Kit offers suggestions for organizing a rewarding experience for all participants: PHI-club-pages.pdf
Frequently Asked Questions
What, exactly, is a Philosophy Club?
- A place where thoughtful children and young people can gather to learn new things and explore new ideas;
- An adventure in becoming reflective individuals within a community where everyone is both a teacher and a student – a community of inquiry;
- A thinking-community which welcomes all ideas and fosters a generative environment where participants develop confidence in their abilities to think and speak with others.
What a Philosophy Club is NOT
- A debate society/club where the most aggressive point of view wins;
- A place to promote or teach any particular point of view or ideology;
- Dedicated to any set of beliefs, religious, political or otherwise.
- A place where “students” blindly accept the information given to them by the “teacher”. We are all students, we are all teachers and true learning can happen at any moment!
Philosophy Club Rules
- All participants must respect one another and their views although it is acceptable and important to challenge views. No one should be made to feel uncomfortable or attacked in any way.
- Everyone must be responsible for his or her ideas and welcome supportive questions and challenges from the members.
- Everyone should contribute by speaking, listening and think.
- Either have the adult facilitate or, depending upon the age of participants, rotate the “chair” or “moderator” position.
What types of questions get discussed in a Philosophy Club?
Here are a few sample questions:
- What makes something right or wrong? How many meanings of “right” and “wrong” are there?
- How do I know what is “fair”?
- How do I decide to do something?
- What makes an idea or statement true or false? Can truth change?
- How do words mean what they mean? How does a language come about and relate (or does it at all?) to the real world?
- What is the difference between a belief, an opinion and a fact/knowledge?
- What makes me ‘me’? How much can I change and still be me?
- Is time real? How so or why not?
- What makes something real?
- Is there a meaning to life? What does that question even mean?
- What makes something beautiful? The eye of the beholder or the qualities of the object?
- What is creativity? Where does it come from?
- How does creativity apply to art? science? elsewhere?
- How does an artist create?
- What is the “work of art” in literature, a painting, music, a dance or theater, etc?