Middle School Students

Online Philosophy Classes

General Information

PLATO is offering online philosophy classes for middle school students (ages 11-14) each quarter in the 2024-25 school year. 

Fall 2024: Identity, Purpose, and the Meaning of Life
Winter 2025: Simulation, Dreams, and Reality 
Spring 2025: Time and Time Travel

Each class will meet weekly for six weeks on Zoom. We welcome students from any part of the world.

Class Descriptions

Fall 2024: Identity, Purpose, and the Meaning of Life
Tuesdays – October 8, 15, 22, 29, and November 5 and 12
4:30-5:45 pm Pacific Time

Who am I? Why am I here? Does everyone have a purpose? What does it all mean? We ask these questions while trying to make sense of who we are and how we fit into the world. In this class students will explore these universal questions and gain some clarity for themselves, and comfort in not having all the answers.

Instructor: Debi Talukdar will be teaching the fall class. Debi is PLATO’s Program Director and has been facilitating philosophical discussions with young people since 2014.


Winter 2025: Simulation, Dreams, and Reality
Tuesdays – January 21 and 28 and February 4, 11, 25, and March 4 and 11 (no class February 18)
4:30-5:45 pm Pacific Time

Are we living in a simulation? Are you dreaming right now? Is there any way to know? Would it matter if you were? Philosophers have been asking these questions for thousands of years. In this class, we’ll follow in the footsteps of Zhuangzi, Descartes, and more contemporary thinkers to consider whether any of this is real.

Instructor: Alex Chang will be teaching the winter class. Alex is a former middle school humanities teacher with over six years of experience developing curricula and facilitating philosophical discussions with young people. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Spring 2025: Time and Time Travel
Tuesdays – April 15, 22, 29 and May 6, 13, and 20
All classes 4:30-5:45pm Pacific Time

What is time? Was it just made up by people? Does time have a beginning and an end? Is the future already determined? Can time exist without change? Do things in the past and future exist? Is time travel possible? In this class, students will explore potential answers to these questions and more.

Instructor: Erica Bigelow will be teaching the spring class. Erica is a Ph.D. student in philosophy at the University of Washington, where she studies injustice, disability, the emotions, ethics, and technology. She is committed to expanding access to philosophy and to helping students see the value of philosophical thinking in their everyday lives. 



Class Structure

These classes will be interactive and collaborative, requiring attention and participation of all students. Students should have their cameras on during class, as visual presence both enhances a sense of community and increases accessibility for all participants.

Barring unforeseen circumstances and illness, we expect students to attend all six sessions in a series. Consistent attendance is important for building community and deepening our discussions over the weeks we meet.

Philosophical conversations involve topics about which reasonable people can disagree. All participants are expected to arrive prepared to listen carefully, thoughtfully engage with others’ ideas, and bravely share their own thoughts.

Session facilitators will ensure we maintain a respectful and intellectually safe community of inquiry. Students will experience the joys of thinking together about the ethical and other philosophical questions on our minds.

Registration and Payment

The cost for a six-week class is $100 for non-members, or $75 for PLATO members (become a member here).

Please use the form to the right (or below on mobile) to register for the fall, winter, and/or spring classes (form coming soon). 

Please register and make payment by the following deadlines:

Fall Class: October 3, 2024
Winter Class: January 16, 2025
Spring Class: April 10, 2025

PLEASE NOTE: Registration is not complete until payment is made. No refunds will be given after the registration deadline.

PLATO values the experience and expertise of its instructors and is committed to compensating them for their work. Scholarship funds are available for families who require financial assistance. If you require financial assistance, please send an email indicating your reason(s) for the request and the extent of financial assistance you need to info@plato-philosophy.org.

Questions? Email info@plato-philosophy.org.

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    Ethics Case Writing

    About

    Any middle student from any country can participate in PLATO’s student ethics case writing project. 

    The purpose of the project is to develop an open-access library of case studies focusing on ethical dilemmas relevant to middle and high school students that can be used in middle and high school classrooms and other ethics forums.

    Accepted cases are published on PLATO’s website, with credit to the writers. Writers of accepted cases will also receive a one-year PLATO membership.

    All published cases become the property of PLATO.

    For more information, see the case writing project page.

    Deadline

    The 2024 deadline is August 31. To submit a case, see the case writing project page