Blind Painter

The “Blind Painter” activity, created by my colleague David Shapiro, is a creative and engaging exercise that always inspires a lively conversation and is a great tool for building community. The activity focuses on two key skills, both important for doing philosophy — clear communication and active listening. When we do philosophy, it’s very important that we learn to Blind Painter

Beauty and Ugliness

Last week I had conversations with both a 4th grade class and a 5th grade class about what makes some things beautiful and some things ugly. Here is a sample of some of the things they wrote: “Love is beautiful because most of us are here because of love — we can’t be standing here without Beauty and Ugliness

Music and beauty

What makes something beautiful?Each year one of the paper assignments I give to my undergraduate students is as follows:     1. List 10 songs that you think are beautiful and 10 songs that you think are ugly.     2. For each song, write two-three sentences about why you think it’s beautiful or ugly. After the Music and beauty

Picture Books and Aesthetics

I write a lot about picture books and the role they can play in encouraging children to develop their philosophical thinking. I’ve been thinking about the special role of picture books for inspiring inquiry about aesthetics. Picture books are a unique mixture of literature and visual art, and generate the discovery of meaning through a Picture Books and Aesthetics

The Obstinate Pen

The Obstinate Pen by Frank Dormer is a new picture book about a pen with a mind of its own. Each adult who ends up with the pen finds that it won’t write what the adult intends, but instead writes what seem to be the pen’s own thoughts and observations, which are often insulting and The Obstinate Pen


Exploring the nature of artistic inspiration and the relationship between art and life, the picture book Emma by Wendy Kesselman tells the story of Emma, who is seventy-two years old, lives alone with her cat and sometimes is “very lonely.” For her birthday, Emma’s family gives her a painting of her childhood village, and Emma Emma

I Want To Paint My Bathroom Blue

I Want to Paint My Bathroom Blue by Ruth Krauss (illustrations by Maurice Sendak) tells the story of a young boy who dreams of painting his bathroom blue, kitchen yellow, ceilings green, etc. He imagines what his ideal home would look like, all in the context of being informed by his father that he can’t I Want To Paint My Bathroom Blue

A new school year

So far it’s been a beautiful September here in the Pacific Northwest. School has started, and I’ll be back in both an elementary school and a university classroom next week. I’ve been working away on my book this summer, and hope to have it finished this year and published in 2012. The past few weeks A new school year