Pre-College Philosophy

Course Material–Curriculum for Teachers

Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children
Curriculum from preschool through high school, using novels written to encourage children to question their experiences. Each novel has an accompanying teacher’s manual. This program does not use the classic texts of philosophical literature, but focuses on the ideas rather than the authorities.

University of Washington Center for Philosophy for Children
University of Washington center website includes multiple lesson plans and activities for K-12 philosophy classes.

Teaching Children Philosophy
A site developed by Mt. Holyoke professor Thomas Wartenberg which explores the use of children’s literature in promoting philosophical reflection among young children.

Philosophical Resources for Educators from LEARN NC and the Philosophy Outreach Program at UNC
This collection of resources includes tools and lessons to help teachers incorporate philosophical resources into classroom instruction. Resources includes a “Philosophy 101” guide for educators, links to exceptional web resources and lesson plans online, and a collection of LEARN NC lesson plans that can be easily modified to include philosophical elements. There are suggestions for every grade level for making philosophy part of the curriculum.

Touchstones Project
Course materials may be ordered through the links on the web site. This group offers materials for elementary through adult learners that stress the acquisition of critical thinking and the skills of dialogue through small group focus discussions. The materials use excerpts from classic texts in a range of disciplines to challenge participants to tackle complex readings for comprehension.

Great Books Foundation
This foundation has developed extensive materials for elementary and secondary levels, which can be used to promote “shared inquiry.” The goal is sustained and careful textual analysis, along with the enjoyment and celebration of the great works of literature. Each grade level has a specific reader which offers a range of short stories and excerpts. The material is challenging and introduces young people to the most thoughtful and inventive minds across cultures.

Center for Talented Youth
Intense 3-week summer programs for talented elementary through high school students. CTY offers courses across a wide range of disciplines, including several courses in philosophy for 5th-12th graders. Descriptions of these courses and sample syllabi can be found here.

The Center for Talented Youth, with funding from the Squire Family Foundation, has also created this user-friendly curriculum. Developed and tested at the Center for Talented Youth, it covers all the major topics in philosophy, and is suitable for a high school or advanced middle school class. Each self-contained module includes lesson plans, suggested readings, discussion questions and study guides so that even teachers with a limited philosophy background should be able to successfully to use it.

Additional Tools for Planning Specific Lessons

Introductory materials Hugh Taft Morales, who taught philosophy and history for twenty-five years in Washington DC, developed a number of lessons to share on teaching a range of topics in philosophy. See the following links:
Plato’s theory of the tripartite self: art drama assignment
Essay on Truth
Essay on the Self
Bill Moyers’ Interview with Martha Nussbaum
Suggestions for an oral exam in philosphy

Blogic: online interactive logic textbook
This interactive web-based textbook in introductory logic includes interactive exercises that automatically correct the student’s work. Topics covered include: Boolean connectives in online search-strings, logic circuits, propositional logic with truth-tables, modal logic and counterfactuals with possible-worlds diagrams, the logic of frequencies and probabilities, the language of quantification. Created by J. David Velleman, Professor of Philosophy at New York University.

All of the following lesson plans were created by participants in the 2014 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for School Teachers on Existentialism, taught by Thomas E. Wartenberg, Professor of Philosophy at Mount Holyoke College. The lesson plans focus on individual works in the Existentialist tradition of philosophy.

Existentialism was a broad cultural movement that had its heyday in post-World War II France, where the central authors in this tradition – Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus – became important public figures.  The roots of Existentialism go all the way to nineteenth century European philosophy and its impact extends to the present day.
Although the Existentialists wrote in many different literary genres, including plays, short stories, novels, and parables, they also presented their key ideas in difficult philosophical texts.  Each of the lesson plans involve an individual work by one of the Existentialists and, by asking students to read specific passages and then asking questions about them, aims to help students grasp the important ideas that are central to Existentialism.

Lesson Plans:

Introduction to Philosophy
Contributed by: Bruce Grigsby
Montrose High School, Montrose, Colorado
Bruce Grigsby majored in history at California State University at Northridge, and completed a Master’s Degree in liberal arts at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is renowned for its distinctive “great books” curriculum. For thirty-seven years, he has been teaching at Montrose High School: he teaches both AP English (for thirteen years) and a general, introductory course in philosophy (for twenty-five years), in which he incorporates as a core technique the use of opening questions and Socratic seminars which he learned at St. John’s. His materials include a syllabus with explanatory notes.

The History of Ideas
Contributed by: N. Clayton Duba
Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois
Clayton Duba has been teaching at Adlai E. Stevenson High School since 2002. He has a B.S. in social science education with a political science minor from Illinois State University and has nearly finished his Master’s degree in political theory from Northeastern Illinois University. He has taught Honors Philosophy to seniors since 2006. In addition, he also teaches World History and AP European History; and is the Editor-in-Chief of the “New Scriptor,” a journal for and by Illinois educators. His materials include an ethical dilemma final project, a reading list and a “History of Ideas” final exam review guide.

Introduction to Philosophy
Contributed by: Steve Goldberg
Oak Park and River Forest High School, Oak Park, Illinois
Steve Goldberg has taught history and philosophy for the past twenty years at Oak Park and River Forest High School. He currently teaches Philosophy Advanced and Modern Middle Eastern History Advanced. He also teaches World History and Asian Studies. Goldberg has a Ph.D. in philosophy and has published two books in philosophy, one that he authored and another that he co-edited, as well as several articles in history, philosophy, and education journals and magazines. Goldberg has been a reader and table leader for AP World History for several years. His materials include both a syllabus for a pre-college level philosophy course as well as a proposal for a cooperative philosophy project.

James Kazmarek’s high school philosophy course includes excellent materials for teachers and students to use to explore the ideas of the great philosophers. You can find ordering information for his materials at the Center for Learning link:
Philosophy of Science
Buddhist philosophy

The Galilean Library
The site includes a library of essays and interviews aimed at all levels, along with a discussion forum on such subjects as free will and the nature of courage. The philosophy section has an ongoing series of essays about philosophy, beginning with the question of what philosophy is and what it means to do philosophy, and moving on to specific areas of philosophy. Especially useful for high school classes.

The Sophia Project
Collection of commentaries developed by the faculty of Molloy College, Rockville Centre, New York. You will find links to explanations of classical texts in philosophy arranged alphabetically.

Looking for materials in Spanish?

If you work with Spanish-speaking students, you might wish to consult the curriculum developed by five teachers in Spain. They teach ethics to 15-16 year old students and philosophy to students ranging from 16 to 18. They have written a novel to use for ethics education, along with a teacher’s manual.

They have provided some materials that are linked to below:
“Thinking Together, Building Freedom” is an introduction in English, Spanish, and French.
Their syllabus, in Spanish is linked through this:
Chapter One of their text (in Spanish) can be found through this link:
And the introduction to the teacher’s manual is available as a .pdf file:

They are developing other materials, one of them on “Philosophy” and the other one on “Science, Technology and Society.” If you would like more information, contact one of the authors:
Marta Aja Cobo
C/ García Lorca, 41
28600 Navalcarnero Madrid España
The publisher of the materials is:
Ediciones Doce Calles
attention: Aida Masip