[infobox color=”#6394bf” textcolor=”#000000″ icon=”comments”] Learn about how California State University Bakersfield developed a successful Philosophy for Children (P4C) program on campus![/infobox]

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PLATO: Can you describe the P4C program at CSUB?


P4C at CSUB: Since Winter 2016, the Philosophy Department at California State University Bakersfield has been developing a Philosophy for Children (P4C) program and offering P4C conversations at public libraries and elementary schools. The CSUB P4C program has multiple components:

  •  A lower division course, CAFS/PHIL 2620 Philosophy for Children, introduces CSUB students to philosophical inquiry and diverse P4C methodologies.
  • This lower division course prepares students for an experiential and service learning course, CAFS/PHIL 3620 P4C Practicum, where students design a curriculum and facilitate weekly P4C sessions with children in local elementary schools.
  • Interested students have the option of enrolling in an internship course, PHIL 4620, and setting up a P4C program in a public library or after-school program under faculty supervision.


PLATO: Why did CSUB decide to have a “P4C on campus” event?


P4C at CSUB: The P4C on Campus project has three foundational reasons for existence:

  1.  The first is to utilize the university library, besides other public libraries, as an open and free community-building site.
  2. The second is to inspire children to pursue higher education by giving them an opportunity to visit a university campus and take part in a collegiate activity.
  3. Finally, the third, is to provide college students, who take the lower division Philosophy for Children course (CAFS / PHIL 2620 Philosophy for Children), an opportunity to practice the skills they learn.


PLATO: How did you go about planning the inaugural “P4C on Campus” event last year?


P4C at CSUB: I contacted a local elementary school and had a meeting with the Principal. We decided together on which grade may be the best candidate for this event and discussed possible dates. I also met with the Walter Stiern Library Dean to determine the best venue and times for the event. We then worked with campus partners to make sure the program was fully supported by the campus:

  •  Campus Outreach connected us with CSUB student ambassadors, who welcomed and gave campus tours to the children;
  • Kegley Institute of Ethics paid for the venue;
  • PHIL and CAFS Departments, A&H Dean, Center for Career Education as well as Provost gave us funds for paying for the venue and procuring instructional materials for the event as well as “P4C at CSUB” t-shirts for the children. The children wore the t-shirts during the event, and we were told that they continued wearing these t-shirts on their “college day”s throughout the school year—days devoted to researching about colleges and degrees.
  • CAFS / PHIL 2620 students chose the books they wanted to use for the event and shared their ideas for activities and discussion questions with their classmates through practice-mock sessions before the event.

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PLATO: Who does the “P4C on Campus” even fit within the goals of the P4C program at CSUB?


P4C at CSUB: The aims of our P4C program are two-fold. On the one hand, we hope to widen an interest in and appreciation of philosophical thinking and conversation both in the public at large and in university students leaning towards instructional occupations. On the other hand, believing in the power of open philosophical inquiry to inspire and foster democratic and respectful dialogue as well as a sense of community, we hope to offer spaces of communication and inquiry of “big ideas” to young persons that reinforce their curiosity and openness to inquiry. By hosting children at the open, welcoming, and quite majestic Dezember Room of the university library, we both honor the role of libraries in our intellectual and communal life and give children the opportunity to emulate being university students for a few hours.


PLATO: Can you give us a sense of what this event look like on campus?


P4C at CSUB: The inaugural P4C on Campus event for this program took place in Fall 2018. We hosted one hundred and sixty students from the fifth-grade classes of Ramon Garza Elementary on November 6th, 2018, for three hours, offering them P4C conversations at the Walter Stiern Library’s Dezember Room and campus tours as well as P4C T-shirts and CSUB promotional materials.

The children sat in circles in groups of 15 on the carpeted floor with the CSUB student facilitators. Each group read and discussed a book: the books the students chose for the event were by Houndsley and Katina by Howe, Big Orange Splot by Pinkwater, The Fishing Lesson by Boell, and The Last Stop on Market Street by De La Pena. The teachers and a few parents from the elementary school were also in attendance and expressed their appreciation of the event, the books chosen, and the conversations among the children. We requested the children to fill out questionnaires after the event. One of the children wrote on the questionnaire that “I learned that college is more exciting than I thought and when I graduate high school I will go to CSUB” and another commented that “A happy thought I had was that I can go to college one day.”


PLATO would like to thank Senem Saner, PhD from the Philosophy Department at California State University Bakersfield for taking the time to contribute to this blog post. P4C on Campus is a program supported in part with grant funding from the PLATO organization.

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