Wondering Aloud: Philosophy with Young People

Challenges and Growth: The Improvement of Ewha Saturday Philosophy Class

Guest Blog Post from Chaeyeon Lee (Philosophy Ph.D. Student, University of Iowa) It has already been a decade since Ewha Saturday Philosophy Class (ESPC), a Philosophy for Children (P4C) program in
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Introducing the PLATO Guest Blogger Series! 

My name is Cassie Finley and I’m excited to introduce myself as the new Communications Intern for PLATO. As part of my work with PLATO, I will be facilitating a new guest-blogger program with the
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Philosophical Themes in Fairy Tales

Guest Blog Post from Wendy TurgeonEditor-in-Chief of PLATO’s Journal Questions: Philosophy for Young People Recently I published Philosophical Adventures with Fairy Tales (2021),
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Intergenerational Ethics Event

What is the moral significance of naming and renaming public buildings? Does wealth allow people to make more ethical choices? Is it ever appropriate for a school to implement policies that directly
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“I Am Actually Somebody”

I finished my last classes in the schools for the summer earlier this month, and was presented with a beautiful booklet in which some of the children wrote to me about how they felt and thought about
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Elementary School Ethics Bowl Judges

Yesterday we held the second session of the Ethics Bowl unit in a fourth/fifth grade classroom. Two teams of students each gave presentations, engaged in an open dialogue, and responded to
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Ethics Bowl in an Elementary School Classroom

This week I led the first of two in-class Ethics Bowl sessions in a fourth and fifth grade class. The sessions involve analyzing one of the cases written for the Middle School Ethics Bowl this year.
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The Year We Learned to Fly

Jacqueline Woodson’s new book, with its magnificent illustrations by Rafael López, is an inspiring story of the power of our minds to overcome challenges and hardship, and to imagine other
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Our First Online Course on Philosophy in Schools

This week was the first session of PLATO’s new ten-week online intensive course on “Philosophy in Schools.” I look back two years, to the early days of the pandemic, when we were
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Unvarnished Listening and the Voices of Children

Do adults listen to children very often? Really listen, without expectations or assumptions about what children mean to say or are trying to say or intend to say or could possibly be saying. Attending
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Frog and Toad “The Garden” and the Cult of Productivity

Yesterday was the first session of the seminar I teach on “Philosophical Inquiry in Schools” at the University of Washington. As part of the session, I read the Arnold Lobel Frog and Toad
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A SILENT DISCUSSION ABOUT LONELINESS AND BEING ALONE

This week I led a “silent discussion” with a class of fourth and fifth grade students. I began by distributing large poster board paper to table groups of 3-4 students, along with various
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HAPPINESS AND THINKING

This week I had a conversation with a group of elementary school students about happiness. It started with an exercise I adapted from David White’s book Philosophy for Kids (I
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RESPECT – AND ARETHA FRANKLIN

Recently I led discussions with two different classes of fourth and fifth grade students about the meaning of respect. We began each session by talking about what makes us feel respected. Common
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Beautiful and Ugly Songs: Building Community

I have written elsewhere in this blog about the “Beautiful Songs” activity we often use in our classes at the University of Washington, and a lesson plan appears in PLATO’s Toolkit,
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A new chapter

We announced this week that the Center for Philosophy for Children will no longer be an official part of the University of Washington, but will return to its roots as an independent nonprofit
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Philosophical Sensitivity

When teachers and family members ask me what is needed to foster philosophical conversations with children and youth, I usually talk about what I call philosophical sensitivity. I have written about
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They All Saw A Cat

The picture book They All Saw A Cat by Brendan Wenzel describes what an array of different creatures — a child, a snake, a mouse, a bee, etc. — observe when they see a cat. At the end of
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Showing Up for Your Friends

Children’s points of view and ideas have changed the way I think about many subjects. Friendship is one of them. I think that children’s thoughts and observations regarding friendship are
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Back in the Classroom, and What Makes Me, Me?

After 18 months, yesterday I returned to an elementary school to do philosophy with a class of 4th and 5th grade students. So wonderful to be in a physical classroom of children talking philosophy,
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Starting the School Year With Hope

Happy autumn! The school season is starting off with enthusiasm and hope for a year with way more time in classrooms and way less time in online settings. After 18 months of only seeing children in
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More on Being Alone and Loneliness, and Being “Connected”

My previous post explored the meaning of “alone together,” a phrase used in, among other places, Arnold Lobel’s story “Alone” in Days with Frog and Toad. In the
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Frog and Toad — Being “Alone Together”

I have written before in this blog about the Arnold Lobel story “Alone” in Days with Frog and Toad and I also write about it in Seen and Not Heard. It’s one of my favorites. And
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Love, Z

Last week I read the story Love, Z by Jessie Sima with a group of 9-11 year olds. The story is about a young robot, Z, who finds a bottle with a message inside that is indecipherable except for
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Seen and Not Heard

Last month saw the release of my new book Seen and Not Heard: Why Children’s Voices Matter. The book describes and analyzes conversations I have had with children over the past 25
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If I Were In Charge of the World . . .

This week I read the poem “If I Were in Charge of the World” by Judith Viorst with a group of 9-11 year old students in our weekly online philosophy session. Using a lesson plan created by
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HIgh School Ethics Bowl

Since 2014, the University of Washington Center for Philosophy for Children has organized and run the Washington State High School Ethics Bowl. Modeled after the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, the
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Hope

This year the journal Questions: Philosophy for Young People, which I founded 20 years ago and which has become one of the official journals of the organization PLATO (Philosophy Learning and
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Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type

My colleague Karen Emmerman, the Center for Philosophy for Children’s Education Director, has contributed this guest post: Doreen Cronin’s book Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type is
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What’s Your Reason?

Recently I played the game “What’s Your Reason” in a virtual philosophy session with a group of eight- and nine-year-old children. The game was created by my colleague David Shapiro,
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Reality Scavenger Hunt

Yesterday in an online philosophy session, the children and I played a game created by my colleague David Shapiro, the “Reality Scavenger Hunt.” This has been a popular philosophy
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What is memory?

In a discussion yesterday with a group of eight- and nine-year-old children, we talked about what is most important for our identities; in other words, what could we not lose without ceasing to be
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Is “everything” real?

  In a couple of final 2020 Zoom classes with a group of fifth grade students, we played a version of the “Reality Scavenger Hunt,” a game my colleague David Shapiro created. In small
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Gratitude

As this is Thanksgiving week in the US, I have been thinking about gratitude. Especially in difficult times like the current moment, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, it can be helpful to remember
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Snack Attack

The video “Snack Attack” portrays (without words) an elderly woman inside a train station, who buys a packet of cookies at a vending machine, putting them in her purse. She then heads
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Listening

Since my previous post about the role of the facilitator in philosophy sessions, I have been thinking more about listening and specifically the roles of listening and of silence in discussions. This
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The Quiet Facilitator

This autumn, as I have begun leading philosophy sessions on Zoom with children again, I have spent some time considering more deeply my role in these sessions. Part of my job as an educator is to
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Thinking about Death

I have been thinking about death since I was about 5 years old. For much of my life, I’ve had the sense that other people don’t think about the subject very much, or at least try not to
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In Limbo

  In Limbo I recently had a video conversation with In Limbo, a new online space dedicated to exploring the philosophical dimensions of the pandemic. The video is here. The site began as a result
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Loneliness and Isolation

During the pandemic, the topics of loneliness and isolation came up in many of the Zoom conversations I had with children.  The six-minute film “Baboon on the Moon” is about a
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Guest Blog Post on Philosophy and the Covid-19 Pandemic

Lexi Pelzer, a high school student who volunteered for our Center this past year, was a student at Overlake High School and is now a rising sophomore at Phillips Exeter Academy. She asked if she could
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New Book and Zoom Philosophy Sessions

It has been over a year since my last post, primarily because I have been working hard to finish my new book, Seen and Not Heard, which is now with my publisher in the editing stage! Here is a
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Reflections about Death

Earlier this year I had a conversation with a classroom of fourth grade students about death. It began when we read a chapter from Natalie Babbit’s Tuck Everlasting, which raises interesting
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The Custom of Racism

This week I had a conversation with a group of fifth grade students at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School that began with reading Jacqueline Woodson’s The Other Side. This picture book tells
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I’m a Frog!

I haven’t been posting this school year very much, as I have been working on my new book, which should be finished before the end of the year and published next year. But I have had several
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Children and Wonder

In the book I’m currently writing, I have been working on a chapter about children’s particular strengths. Our society generally has such a deficit view of childhood, but children also
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What is dessert?

Last week I led two end-of-the-year philosophy sessions. One of the activities I like to do as a last session for the year is a prompt that encourages students to think about what is required for
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Silence and Philosophy

The traditional model for philosophy sessions in schools involves verbal communication, typically in the form of large group conversations, often in a circle. While this method of leading philosophy
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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
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Being Alone and Being Lonely

I decided to write about another of Arnold Lobels’ Frog and Toad stories today. Along with being joyful and charming, Lobel’s work is, in my estimation, among the most deeply philosophical
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Children’s Perspectives on Childhood

Last month I had a conversation with a group of fifth grade students about the differences between children and adults, including whether they would prefer to be children or adults. We began with the
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Gardening and Some Philosophical Questions

“The Garden” in Frog and Toad Together is another of Arnold Lobel’s delightful stories about the friends Frog and Toad, and one that is perfect for the early spring, which
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Being a Friend

Last week I was in a fourth grade classroom and we read the story The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, a picture book I’ve written about previously in this blog. We started our discussion
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Listening (or Not Listening) to Children

From an editorial in the Wall Street Journal yesterday entitled “Our Childish Gun Debate,” by William McGurn: Quick show of hands for those with children: How many of you look to your
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How Should Our City Be Designed?

A recent article described the ways in which many cities are not child-friendly, examining some of the possibilities for designing cities around urban children and their needs and desires. It led me
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Seen and Not Heard

I am working on a new book, Seen and Not Heard, which will be published by Rowman & Littlefield next year. The book considers the ways in which children, with a particular focus on
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Friendship

“Books! And cleverness! There are more important things – friendship and bravery . . .” Hermione, age 11 From Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling Learning to make
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The Story of Ferdinand

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (illustrator Robert Lawson) is the story of a young bull, Ferdinand, growing up in Spain. Ferdinand, unlike all the other little bulls around him, does not
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Fibs and Friendship

In Franklin Fibs, by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark, Franklin’s friends are all boasting about the things they can do. Bear can climb to the top of the highest tree. Hawk can soar over
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Why This Matters

  When I first founded the Center for Philosophy for Children in 1996, very few people in the United States were working or interested in introducing philosophy to children and youth. It has been
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The Important Things in Life, and Rules that Help Us Keep Them

In two fifth grade classrooms at John Muir Elementary School last week, I read to the students chapter 12 from E.B. White’s Stuart Little, in which Stuart, who, despite being the son of
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Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, and Identity

In the picture book Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio (illustrations by Christian Robinson), a bulldog named Gaston is part of a family of poodles. Although it does not come easily to him, Gaston learns
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Big Questions and How We Answer Them

I developed this activity a couple of years ago and often use it in the early part of the school year. I have found that it engages most students and leads to interesting conversations, often lasting
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Do I need this or just want it?

Distinguishing between what we need and what we want is challenging for all of us, children and adults. One of my colleagues at the Center for Philosophy for Children, Karen Emmerman, has developed a
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Philosophy Warm-Ups

As we head back into classrooms after the summer, I thought the topic of warming up to philosophy would make for an appropriate first fall blog post. When I am regularly in a classroom facilitating
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Institutional Humility, or What Philosophy Can and Can’t Do

This will be my last blog post until the fall, and I wanted to explore further some of the issues I began examining in my last post.  In particular, I have been thinking more and more about the
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The Challenges of Engaging All Students in Philosophy

Philosophy in K-12 classrooms is still a rarity in the United States. My work over the past 20 plus years has involved introducing philosophy into schools and helping educators and policy makers to
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The Other Way to Listen

The Other Way to Listen, written by Byrd Baylor and illustrated by Peter Parnall, tells the story of a boy who wants to learn to listen. He knows an old man who can “walk by any
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The Invisible Boy

The Invisible Boy, a 2013 picture book written by Trudy Ludwig and illustrated by Patricia Barton, was recommended to me recently by a colleague. The “invisible boy” of the story is Brian,
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The Book of Mistakes

The Book of Mistakes is a first book by Corinna Luyken. I knew Corinna when we both lived in the Methow Valley, in the north central part of Washington State, some years ago. The book is about the way
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Four Feet, Two Sandals

Four Feet, Two Sandals, by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed, tells the story of two ten-year-old girls, Lina and Feroza, and their families, who are living in a refugee camp in
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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:
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What makes something a home?

A couple of weeks ago I had a discussion with fifth grade students about the nature of home. The question we were exploring was: What makes something a home? The students began by talking about home
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Tuck Everlasting

Recently I read a chapter (Chaper 12) from the young adult novel Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbit, to a class of fifth grade students at John Muir Elementary School in Seattle. I was surprised that
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Philosophy Quotes from Children

This fall a reporter called and asked me if I had any philosophical quotes from children that I particularly liked. Of course I do! For example: and For
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Randall’s Wall

Randall’s Wall by Carol Fenner is a book for upper elementary school students about a young boy who lives inside an invisible wall, which protects him from the cruelty of his classmates. The
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Elections and Normality

On Wednesday morning after Tuesday’s election, I led my weekly philosophy session with a group of 5th grade students at John Muir Elementary School. The students are primarily immigrants and
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Looking Like Me

In our second session at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, we read the story Looking Like Me by Walter Dean Myers. In the story, a boy looks in the mirror and then talks with family, friends, and
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Why Do We Go to School?

I had an interesting discussion earlier this month with a group of 5th grade students from Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, about why we go to school. Thurgood Marshall is an interesting and
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What Do You Do With An Idea?

What Do You Do With An Idea? Written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom, this charming picture book explores the nature of ideas and their role in our lives.The story begins
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The Other Side

Jacqueline Woodson’s picture book The Other Side begins as follows: “That summer the fence that stretched through our town seemed bigger.” The story is narrated by Clover, who
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A New School Year

The school year is off to a busy start for the UW Center for Philosophy for Children! We will be hosting an event for parents on October 6 and are excited about the growth of our work with parents and
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New Book!

I have had a number of inquiries recently about this blog and the time lapse since my last post. I have not been posting since the spring because I been working on a new book, which will be out this
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Amazing Grace

Mary Hoffman’s 1991 picture book Amazing Grace tells the story of Grace, who loves stories and especially loves acting them out. Filled with imagination and dramatic flair, Grace decides
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“Lifeboat” Activity with Children’s Hospital Patients

This week at Children’s Hospital’s school, in my weekly session with the older students, I facilitated an activity adapted from an exercise created by my colleague David Shapiro. Here is a
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Freedom Summer

Written by Deborah Wiles and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue, Freedom Summer tells the story of a friendship between two boys in the early 1960s in Mississippi: Joe, who is white, and John
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A Shelter in Our Car

In A Shelter in Our Car, Monica Gunning depicts the experiences of eight-year-old Zettie and her mother, who have come to the United States after Zettie’s father’s death. They are
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Being alive means dying

Today I read Morris the Moose by B. Wiseman with a group of 6-8 year olds at the school at Seattle Children’s Hospital. In the story, Morris meets a cow and notes that the cow is
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Taking Over Your Life

I taught my first philosophy session at the school at Seattle Children’s Hospital this morning, which I will be doing every Tuesday. We started with Plato’s Ring of Gyges, which led us
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Freedom and Following the Rules

In a third grade classroom at John Muir Elementary this morning, I read Toni Morrison’s The Big Box with the students. The story is about three children who are put into a “big box”
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Thinking About Thinking

Sorry for the long delay in returning to this blog after the summer. I am working on a book and trying to find time for everything! But I’m committed to continuing to write the blog and
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When Lions Roar

Can we control our feelings? Our perceptions? Does how we feel affect what happens in the world?When Lions Roar, a simple picture book by Robie Harris, depicts how scary the world can feel when
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Soap! Soap! Don’t Forget the Soap!

Soap! Soap! Don’t Forget the Soap! is an Appalachian folktale, brought to life in a great read-aloud picture book by Tom Birdseye with illustrations by Andrew Glass. The story’s main
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Pezzettino

Leo Lionni’s Pezzettino is the story of the small Pezzettino (which means “little piece” in Italian), who is a small orange square surrounded by other beings who are all made up of
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Fourth Grade Students on Plato

I had an interesting conversation about Plato’s Ring of Gyges story with the fourth grade class I’ve been teaching at John Muir Elementary School. As is my usual practice, I read
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Let’s Do Nothing!

Let’s Do Nothing by Toby Fucile illustrates the perplexity of the concept of nothing. The book tells the story of two boys who, after concluding that they have “done it all,” decide
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The Hole

In The Hole by Øyvind Torseter, a man is moving into a new home, and he notices a hole in the apartment. The hole seems to move around, appearing in a wall, on the floor, in a door,
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Black Dog

Levi Pinfold’s Black Dog tells the story of a black dog that arrives outside a family’s home one morning. The father in the family wakes up first and calls the police, reporting that,
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I Am the Dog

Daniel Manus Pinkwater’s I Am the Dog tells the story of Jacob, a boy, and his dog Max. One day they decide to change places. Jacob eats from a bowl on the floor while Max eats at the table
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The Favorite Daughter

Allen Say’s picture book The Favorite Daughter is dedicated to his daughter. It’s the story of Yuriko, who is half Japanese. She is upset when other children make fun of her name and tease
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Summer philosophy seminar for high school teachers

For the first time this summer, there will be a teaching and learning seminar for high school teachers at the American Association of Philosophy Teachers (AAPT) Conference. The seminar will be funded
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I Wonder

Annaka Harris has written a picture book, I Wonder, that expresses the feelings of wonder and mystery that many children have when thinking about the world. Eva, walking with her mother, asks
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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
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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
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I’m a Frog!

I’m a Frog is another gem of a picture book by Mo Willems, published this year. It’s one of a series of books about best friends Piggie and Elephant Gerald. Willems’ books are
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The Lorax

A plug for the philosophical suggestiveness of books by Dr. Suess! And for entering a philosophy session not knowing where it will lead. Today I read the story The Lorax, published in 1971, with
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Good News, Bad News

Jeff Mack’s book Good News Bad News portrays the different ways people can see the same situation. Using just four words – good news, bad news – Mack describes Rabbit and Mouse going
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I know a lot of things

Ann and Paul Rand’s picture book, I know a lot of things, captures a young child’s exuberance about the things he or she knows – such as “when I look in a mirror what I see is
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Children Make Terrible Pets

Children Make Terrible Pets, Peter Brown’s picture book about a young bear, Lucy, who one day notices a small boy hiding in the bushes and watching her. Lucy thinks the boy is adorable, calling
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The Sense of Wonder

Rachel Carson’s The Sense of Wonder portrays her experiences exploring the coast of Maine with her nephew. She notes, “A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of
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Plato Was Wrong!

The Center’s Education Director, David Shapiro, has written a wonderful book – Plato Was Wrong! Footnotes on Doing Philosophy With Young People – that compiles activities and games
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Exciting Initiatives for 2013-14!

How can summer be over already? The compensation is all of the exciting projects going on this fall! In the Northwest:The first philosopher-in-residence program in Seattle begins at John Muir
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Children’s rights

The book For Every Child, published in 2001 in association with Unicef, with text by Caroline Castle and a forward by Archbiship Desmond Tutu, lists some of the rights enumerated in the U.N.
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What is a dessert?

For my last class of the year in elementary schools, I often bring in food and drinks and we have a “Philosophy Cafe,” eating and drinking and talking about ideas. This week in the final
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Loveykins

In this picture book by former British Children’s Laureate Quentin Blake, after a very windy night Angela finds a baby bird who has fallen from his nest. She takes him home and cares for him,
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Everyone Sees Things So Differently

“It doesn’t frustrate me that we don’t have the answers to these questions. I like hearing what other people think about them, because there are so many different ways people think
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Two New PLATO Initiatives!

I’ve written before about PLATO (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization), a national organization that advocates and supports introducing philosophy to K-12 students. Two exciting new
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Just Pretend

Benny and Penny in Just Pretend, by Geoffrey Hayes, is an early-reader graphic novel about two siblings and the efforts of the younger child, Penny, to join her brother in “playing
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Frog in Love

Frog in Love by Max Velthuijs is the story of Frog, who has felt strange all week, and is trying to figure out what is wrong. He feels like crying and laughing at the same time, and that
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“Shivers”

Arnold Lobel is probably my favorite children’s book author, and a master at generating philosophically suggestive narratives. The Frog and Toad books, in particular, are full of stories that
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A Pair of Red Clogs

A Pair of Red Clogs is Masako Matsuno’s first book for children, written in 1960. A grandmother, looking for a box to send a new pair of clogs to her granddaughter, finds an old pair of cracked
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Asking Questions

I have written in many places about the centrality of questions to the work we do, and the importance generally of children learning to ask good questions and trusting that their questions are
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Waterloo & Trafalgar

Olivier Tallec’s 2012 wordless picture book, Waterloo & Trafalgar, portrays two men, one in blue and one in orange, who are separated by walls and watch each other suspiciously behind their
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The 60-Second Philosopher

Andrew Pessin’s The 60-Second Philosopher is a series of 60 very short chapters (each two pages) that provide ideas for thinking about a wide range of philosophical topics (time, color, various
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Otter and Odder

Otter and Odder, by James Howe, was introduced to me recently by one of my undergraduate students. The story is about Otter who, looking for food, falls in love with the fish he is about to eat. Told
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An Angel for Solomon Singer

Cynthia Rylant’s story An Angel for Solomon Singer is the story of Solomon Singer, who lives in a hotel for men in New York City, and doesn’t like it. His room has no balcony or fireplace,
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Michael Rosen’s Sad Book

The nature of sadness. Michael Rosen’s Sad Book describes how sadness feels and tries to understand it. “Sometimes sad is very big. It’s everywhere. All over me.” Michael
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Benjamin’s Dreadful Dream

Dreaming is a source of fascination for most children, and the topic can lead to examinations of questions about knowledge, and the relationship between reality and experience. Benjamin’s
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Does everything have a right to live?

In a fourth grade class at Whittier Elementary School yesterday, we read chapter 3 of Standing Up to Mr. O by Claudia Mills, and the children asked the question, “Does everything have
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Harry and Hopper

Harry and Hopper is the story of Harry’s relationship with his dog, Hopper. Harry taught Hopper “how to sit, how to stay, how to catch a ball, how to fetch the lease, how to
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Little Bird

The picture book Little Bird by Germano Zullo, published this year, has few words and many colorful, vibrant illustrations. It tells the story of a truck driver who, coming to the edge of a cliff and
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Infinity and Me

Infinity and Me is a new book, written by Kate Hosford with illustrations by Gabi Swiatkowska, that explores the nature of infinity. Uma, an eight-year-old girl, begins wondering, as she looks up
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Horton Hears A Who

Horton Hears A Who! by Dr. Suess tells the story of Horton the Elephant who, while splashing “in the cool of the pool,” hears a small noise, like a very small yelp, but sees nothing
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Out of My Mind

Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind is the story of eleven-year-old Melody, born with cerebral palsy and unable to walk, talk, feed herself, or take care of any of her basic needs. Doctors, many
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A Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, based on true events, tells the dual story of Nya, living in southern Sudan in 2008 and traveling miles every day to bring home water for her family, and Salva,
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The Bear That Wasn’t

The Bear That Wasn’t, written in written in 1946 by Frank Tashlin, explores identity and what we can know about ourselves and others. The bear in the story wakes up after winter hibernation and
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Is hatred important?

I had a marvelous philosophy session with a fourth grade class at Whittier Elementary School yesterday, in which we read the chapter of E.B. White’s Stuart Little in which Stuart becomes an
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The Magic Half

My colleague Sara Goering recommended this book to me and I loved it. Annie Barrows’ The Magic Half tells the story of Miri, a middle child with two older twin brothers and two younger twin
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Happy

Mies Van Hout’s Happy explores feelings by illustrating one word – brave, surprised, proud, angry – with lively pastels of unusual-looking fish. The book is engaging and the
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A Bad Case of Stripes

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon tells the story of Camilla Cream, who loves lima beans but never eats them because she wants to fit in with her friends, who all hate lima beans. On the
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Fish On A Walk

Fish on A Walk by Eva Muggenthaler is a new picture book that illustrates each picture with only two adjectives — “Happy-Sad,” “Jealous-Accepting,”
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Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization

The 2012-13 school year is off to an energetic start! For teachers and others interested in learning about doing philosophy with children, the new national organization I’ve been involved in
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The Philosophical Child

This will be my last blog post for the school year – I’ll start again in September. I wanted to let everyone know that my book, The Philosophical Child, is currently at press and will
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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
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The If Machine

The If Machine, by Peter Worley, was published in 2011 and is full of ideas for motivating philosophical conversations with children. The first quarter of the book is an introduction to doing
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Who is More Trustworthy: Children or Adults?

Earlier this month at Whittier Elementary School in Seattle, a group of fourth grade students and I had a long conversation after reading Barbara Williams’ Albert’s Toothache. We talked
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Emma

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
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Fractions = Trouble!

Claudia Mills’ latest book Fractions = Trouble! is about Wilson, who is having trouble with math in his third grade classroom, and so his parents hire a math tutor to help him. Embarrassed
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little blue and little yellow

Another Leo Lionni book, little blue and little yellow tells the story of two friends, both blobs of color, who love playing together, and one day hug each other so much that they both become
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Boodil My Dog

Boodil My Dog by Pija Lindenbaum tells the story of a child’s relationship with the family dog, Boodil, a bull terrier. The child describes Boodil as “brilliant,” “fierce,
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The Sleeping Beauty

We all know the story of The Sleeping Beauty, on whom a curse is placed at birth. In the story, the 13th of thirteen wise women, angry because she is not invited to the celebration of Sleeping
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Rumpelstiltskin

I’ve been re-reading fairy tales and exploring their philosophical potential. So many questions, especially about ethics, are raised by these stories! I just read a version of the Brothers Grimm
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An Extraordinary Egg

Leo Lionni’s picture books are wonderful for thinking with children about philosophical questions. I’m working on a paper about Lionni and philosophy for children, and last night I read
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Duck, Death and the Tulip

My friend Deb Tollefsen at University of Memphis recommended Duck, Death and the Tulip, by Wolf Erlbruch, which tells the story of Duck and her meeting with Death, who informs Duck that
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Why?

The picture book Why, written by Lindsay Camp and illustrated by Tony Ross, is one of those books that illuminates in many ways the whole point of doing philosophy with children. The story is
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Music or food?

Last week fourth grade students at John Muir Elementary and I talked about the story Frederick by Leo Lionni. (I have written about this story in a previous post.) We began talking about why
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Fourth Graders and the Story Double Trouble

I had an interesting experience recently with the fourth grade students I’m teaching this year at John Muir Elementary.  I read them the story “Double Trouble” by Philip Cam. A
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The Lorax

This morning I talked about Dr. Suess’ The Lorax with a class of fourth grade students at John Stanford International School in Seattle. They have been having discussions about
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Harold and the Purple Crayon

What can we know about the nature of reality? A wonderful story for motivating conversations about this question is Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. First published in 1955,
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Anno’s Counting Book

Anno’s Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno is one of those books that my kids and I looked at constantly when they were in elementary school. Starting with 0 and ending with 12, it’s the most complex
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Seeing ish-ly: what makes someone an artist?

Peter Reynolds’ picture book ish tells the story of Ramon, who loves to draw and draws all the time. Then one day his older brother laughs at one of his drawings, and Ramon becomes preoccupied
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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
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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
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The Universe and Dr. Einstein

I’ve been re-reading the short book The Universe and Dr. Einstein, originally written in 1948 by Lincoln Barnett. I first read and was inspired by this book when I was 17. An engrossing account,
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The Rainbow Fish

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is a picture book that parents seem either to love or to hate. It is the story of a fish, described as “the most beautiful fish in the entire ocean,”
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Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

Mem Fox’s picture book Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge is the story of a young boy, Wilfrid Gordon, whose “house was next door to an old people’s home and [who] knew all the people
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What is most important in life?

On Thursday I read a chapter of E.B. White’s Stuart Littlewith the 4th grade students at John Muir Elementary. The chapter describes Stuart’s one-day experience acting as a substitute
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The experience of childhood

Last week I had a conversation with fourth grade students at John Muir Elementary about the story Albert’s Toothache by Barbara Williams, one of my favorite picture books. In the story, Albert,
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You Can’t Say You Can’t Play

I’ve been re-reading Vivian Paley’s book You Can’t Say You Can’t Play. The book describes Paley’s observation of what she calls the “habit of rejection”
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Inception

The 2010 film Inception is a philosophically provocative film that’s been very popular with teenagers. The film is about an “extractor,” Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), someone who is
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PLATO and a national movement for philosophy in the schools

For most of the 15 years that I’ve been involved in this field, there have been an isolated few of us around the country working to introduce philosophy to pre-college students. But in the last
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Moral Relativism or Mutual Respect?

I had a lively conversation yesterday with a group of fifth graders about how we can understand, respect and evaluate cultures other than our own. The conversation took off when one student asked,
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The Dragon who liked to spit Fire

This delightful picture book by Judy Varga, written in 1961, tells the story of Darius, a little dragon, and the friendship he develops with young prince Frederic. Can Darius be himself, a dragon
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Questions and the Philosophical Self

For the past month I’ve been working on the chapter of my book that examines what I’m calling the “philosophical self.” This part of us, that is naturally inclined to ponder
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Frindle

The young adult novel Frindle by Andrew Clements is the story of a clever fifth grade student, Nick Allen, who decides to invent a new word, and the consequences of what he does and the way he does
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The Big Orange Splot

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater is a picture book that tells the story of Mr. Plumbean, who lives on a street where the houses are all the same, painted red with olive-colored roofs and
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The Ugly Duckling

The classic nineteenth century fairy tale The Ugly Duckling tells the story of a duckling who, when hatched along with his brothers and sisters, is ridiculed and ostracized because they perceive him
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Philosophy Talk Show on Pre-College Philosophy

You can now listen to the Philosophy Talk radio show on pre-college philosophy, taped at the University of Washington in
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The Thief

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner is 1996 novel for young adults, the first of the series The Queen’s Thief. The story’s main character, Gen, is a thief who boasts about being able to steal
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Philosophy Talk and Fourth Grade Philosophers

Recently the fourth grade students at John Muir with whom I’ve been doing philosophy and I taped a segment for the radio show Philosophy Talk. We talked about personal identity, the mind-body
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The Cricket in Times Square

One of my favorite works of children’s literature, The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, first published in 1960, is moving, funny and philosophically suggestive. In particular, the book
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Double Trouble

On Friday the 4th graders at John Muir and I had a long conversation about personal identity. We also had some visitors from Nova High School, as well as one of the graduate students at UW working
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Happiness at 10

On Friday I talked about happiness with the fourth grade students with whom I’ve been working at John Muir Elementary in Seattle. One of the things that’s always so interesting to me about
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Meaning in Education

Since our seminar session at UW last Thursday, I’ve been thinking about meaning in education. We spent the first part of the session talking about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and
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Plato with Fourth Graders

I taught my first couple of elementary school classes in the last week, both with fourth grade students in Seattle. It is always amazing to me the level of philosophical interest and understanding
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Philosophical Sensitivity

The first day of fall and it’s a beautiful clear day in northeast Washington State. I am returning to this blog after spending much of the summer working on the book I am writing for parents
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Why do we go to school?

In my last class of the school year with the 5th grade public school students with whom I’ve been doing philosophy this year, we held a “Philosophy Cafe” with juice, cookies and
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When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me, a young adult novel that was a winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal, was written by Rebecca Stead. Set in New York City in the late 1970s, it’s an engrossing story about a
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Frederick

Leo Lionni wrote, who died in 1999, wrote and illustrated many classic children’s books.  I’ve used several of his books to inspire pre-college philosophy discussions. One that is
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How much philosophy does a pre-college philosophy teacher need to know?

I’m working on a review article for the journal Teaching Philosophy, writing about five books that have been written in the past few years about pre-college philosophy. In the course of reading
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What is a child?

I read an interesting article this week by Tamar Schapiro on “What Is a Child?” In a discussion about the possible justifications for what we generally believe are adults’ special
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Northwest Center for Philosophy for Children Grant and Summer Workshop

Center for Philosophy for Children just received a three-year grant from the Squire Family Foundation! The grant funds a summer workshop for teachers that will take place this June, and also
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New York Times article on doing philosophy with children

I am living it up in Italy at the moment, but thought I would write this post to note that the New York Times published an article last week about philosophy in elementary school classrooms:
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Developing a philosophical self

As part of the book I’m working on, I’ve been thinking a lot about the development of our philosophical selves. In my experience, most children begin to exhibit a “philosophical
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PLATO

After almost two years of work, the new national organization for pre-college philosophy in the US, PLATO (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization), has been born! PLATO is a national support,
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Time, nothingness and imagination

Another marvelous conversation last week with the 5th grade students with whom I’ve been working all year. At the beginning of the school year, one of the questions in which the students were
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Hotel Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda As part of the “Moral Philosophy and Genocide” unit I am doing with eighth grade students, last week we watched the film Hotel Rwanda and then discussed it. We talked about
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Really, Really BIG Questions

The picture book Really, Really BIG Questions by British philosophy professor Stephen Law is an engaging introduction to philosophy for anyone from elementary school age through middle school. With
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When does morality begin?

I read a review of cognitive psychologist Alison Gopnik’s book The Philosophical Baby in the New York Review of Books recently. Gopnik suggests that the relationship between an infant and his or
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The Ethics of Stealing

Recently I have been starting my philosophy sessions in the 5th grade with the students raising questions they want to discuss that have come up since I’ve last visited. This afternoon, the
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The Phantom Tollbooth

I recently reread The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, one of my favorite books in elementary school. Published in 1961, with marvelous line drawings by Jules Feiffer, the book tells the story of
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The Experience Machine

In a conversation about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave with eighth grade students last week, we spent a lot of time talking about Descartes’ dream argument and whether we can know whether
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What is normal?

When I was in a fifth grade classroom last week, the students told me that they had been puzzling a little together about the meaning of “normal,” and wanted to ask me about it. What is
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Happiness

I had an interesting discussion today about happiness with the fifth grade students with whom I’ve been doing philosophy this year. We started with an exercise I adapted from David White’s
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My Friend the Monster

The short novel My Friend the Monster by Clyde Roberta Bulla is about the young Prince Hal, whose parents, the king and queen, think he is “ordinary” and have no time for him. They will
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January

Just Now In the morning as the storm begins to blow awaythe clear sky appears for a moment and it seems to methat there has been something simpler than I could ever believesimpler than I could have
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Questions: Philosophy for Young People

I was involved in founding the journal Questions: Philosophy for Young People ten years ago. The journal began as a project of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on Pre-College
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The Galilean Library

I found a wonderful website this week: The Galilean Library. The site is a resource for people interested in the sciences and humanities, and in particular philosophy, history, literature, and history
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Philosophy and The Purloined Boy

I recently had a conversation with Christopher Wiley, whose num de plume is Mortimus Clay, the author of the young adult fantasy novel The Purloined Boy. The novel was a finalist in the Young Adult
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December

Winter Solitude Winter solitude—in a world of one colorthe sound of wind. Matsuo BashoTranslated from the Japanese by Robert Hass December Birthdays See December 2008 post
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Philosophy Cafe

On Tuesday afternoon we had a “philosophy cafe” in the 5th grade. I brought cider and cookies, and told the students that in parts of the world adults went to cafes and had something to
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The Real Thief

William Steig’s The Real Thief is an appealing story for talking about ethics with young people. It’s a short chapter book, which can be read to a child over several nights or along with a
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Teenagers

Recently I’ve begun working on a book for parents and other adults about ways to inspire conversations about philosophy with young people. As part of this work, I’ve been thinking about
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What is music?

Yesterday I had a session with two fifth grade classes (about 40 or so students), in which a local pianist/composer came in and performed John Cage’s 4′ 33″ to inspire a conversation
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November

During Wind and Rain They sing their dearest songs–He, she, all of them–yea,Treble and tenor and bass.And one to play;With the candles mooning each face….Ah, no; the years O!How the
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World Philosophy Day

Introduced in 2002, World Philosophy Day, the third Thursday of November each year, is a celebration of philosophy that seeks to bring philosophy into the lives of people everywhere. The day is an
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Women in Philosophy

There has been an ongoing discussion on the Leiter Reports blog about the under-representation of women in academic philosophy. The speculations about the reasons for the dearth of female philosophers
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Listening to Our Children

Somewhat frequently I receive email messages or other communications from parents asking me about how to introduce philosophy into their conversations with their children. The main advice I give
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Dreams and sleep

This week the fifth grade students and I talked about dreams and sleep and the mysterious world of non-waking life. Our conversation, excerpted below, ranged from an exploration of dreams and
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Comments from Memphis High School Students

I had a conversation recently with a colleague about the difference it makes, in his view, when students who have had philosophy in high school enroll in his undergraduate philosophy classes. He said
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October

To Autumn Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with
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College Students in Seattle Schools

We began our Philosophy for Children seminar at the University of Washington earlier this month, and this quarter we have 10 students going into 8 different classrooms, from 1st to 12th grade, in six
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Fifth Grade Questions

I had a marvelous class with some fifth grade students yesterday. The first class of the year, we began by talking about what philosophy is and why anyone might be interested in it. I had planned that
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Justice at Harvard

What’s the right thing to do? Harvard professor Michael Sandel has been teaching a moral philosophy course at Harvard for almost 30 years, with 1,000 students at a time often taking his popular
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A Wrinkle in Time

I love this book. A science fiction young adult novel by Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time was first published in 1962 and has won all kinds of awards. In the engrossing story, packed with
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September

The Railway Children When we climbed the slopes of the cuttingWe were eye-level with the white cupsOf the telegraph poles and the sizzling wires. Like lovely freehand they curved for milesEast and
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Philosophy and Learning

Why do I do what I do? I’ve been doing philosophy in schools for almost 14 years now. At a conference in Memphis this past weekend about doing philosophy with young people, the participants
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High School Philosophy Classes

There is lots of exciting work in philosophy going on in high school classrooms around the country! Here are two public high school philosophy classes about which I’ve recently learned: In Memphis,
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The Truman Show

The Truman Show, by director Peter Weir, is a film about Truman Burbank, who is adopted at birth by a television network to be the star of a reality television show. Truman grows up unaware that his
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Harry Potter

Over the past two weeks I’ve been re-reading the seven Harry Potter novels. A lovely way to spend long summer afternoons. I’ve been thinking how much fun it would be to teach a year-long
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August

I dwell in Possibility – A fairer House than Prose – More numerous of Windows –Superior – for Doors – Of Chambers as the Cedars – Impregnable of Eye – And for an Everlasting RoofThe
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And the Pursuit of Happiness

Maira Kalman writes a wonderful illustrated New York Times blog, “And the Pursuit of Happiness,” about American democracy, with a new post on the last Friday of every month. In March she
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Online Philosophy for Children course

The Institute for the Advancement for Philosophy for Children, in Montclair, New Jersey, is offering a fall online class on “Teaching Children Philosophical Thinking.” Here is the
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Solar Eclipse

Nothing there is beyond hope, nothing that can be sworn impossible, nothing wonderful, since Zeus, father of the Olympians, made night from mid-day, hiding the light of the shining Sun, and sore fear
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July

Let Evening Come Let the light of late afternoonshine through chinks in the barn, movingup the bales as the sun moves down. Let the cricket take up chafingas a woman takes up her needlesand her yarn.
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Stormy Night

I have used Michele Lemieux’s book Stormy Night in elementary school philosophy classes. It’s a great resource for an introductory session to help the students start to recognize philosophical
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25 Philosophers

This is a nice, accessible resource for high school students: http://onlinecollegedegree.org/2009/05/04/25-timeless-insightful-philosophers-for-your-personal-development/. It lists 25 philosophers,
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June

ochikochi ni taki no otokiku wakaba kana fresh young leaves –the sound of a waterfallboth far and near Yosa Buson June Birthdays June 5 Charles Hartshorne (American, born 1897) and Adam Smith
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The Little Book of Thunks

Thunk: “a beguiling simple-looking question about everyday things that stops you in your tracks and helps you start to look at the world in a whole new light.”The Little Book of Thunks is
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College Students in Pre-College Classrooms: Philosophy Books and Other Ideas

Thursday was our last seminar session at UW for the spring. Through this class, twelve college students introduced philosophy into public school classrooms around Seattle over the quarter. The seminar
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May

From BlossomsFrom blossoms comesthis brown paper bag of peacheswe bought from the boyat the bend in the road where we turned towardsigns painted Peaches. From laden boughs, from hands,from sweet
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Philosophy in the Classroom

This week and next students in our Philosophy for Children seminar at the University of Washington will be doing philosophy lessons in a variety of public school classrooms around Seattle, from 5th
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Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust: Blog Series Part VII

Can one person make a difference? The last class for the Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust unit involves watching the film Not in Our Town, which describes a series of hate crimes that took place in
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Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust: Blog Series Part VI

Why did some people become rescuers during the Holocaust? What makes some people, despite the risks, act to prevent moral wrongs? Is being a bystander morally wrong? In this class we see the film The
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Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust: Blog Series Part V

In this class we view the film Heil Hitler: Confessions of a Hitler Youth. The film is an interview with Alfons Heck, who describes his childhood experiences as a member of the Hitler Youth and his
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Stellaluna

The picture book Stellaluna, by Janell Cannon, is a wonderful book for inspiring discussions about what makes something what it is and about friendship. It tells the story of a young fruit bat who
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Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust: Blog Series Part IV

Why do people obey authority even when they sense that what they’re doing is wrong? Central to the conditions that allowed the Holocaust to occur was people’s tendencies to conform to the
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Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust: Blog Series Part III

When Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, Jane Elliott, a third grade teacher in Iowa, decided to implement an exercise in her classroom to help her students understand racism and
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Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust — Blog Series Part II

This morning I taught the second class of the “Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust” unit to two eighth grade classes. This class is an introduction to moral philosophy, a way to give the
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Philosophy? It’s so difficult!

Created by 5th grade students Methow Valley Elementary School Winthrop, Washington I was reflecting this morning about a conversation I had last week, in which I was asked by an acquaintance about my
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April

A Blessing Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.And the eyes of those two Indian poniesDarken with kindness.They have come gladly out of the willowsTo
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Does what we are matter when thinking about what we ought to do?

Is science relevant to moral philosophy? In the marvelously clear and accessible Experiments in Ethics, Kwame Anthony Appiah explores the relationship between morality and the empirical research of
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Poem

The World But Seems To BeThe world but seems to beyet is nothing morethan a line drawnbetween light and shadow.Decipher the messageof this dream-scriptand learn to distinguish timefrom Eternity.
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Forgiveness: “Forgiving Dr. Mengele”

This week I watched Forgiving Dr. Mengele, an interesting and provocative film about the life of Eva Mozes Kor. Eva and her sister Miriam were among the many sets of twins who were victims of Josef
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Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust: Blog Series Part I

I spent the morning last Friday with two eighth grade classes in the first sessions of a unit I teach every year on “Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust.” I teach the unit with Jane Orme,
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Something out of nothing

This week in the 5th grade the students and I talked about whether the universe began at some point or has always existed. This is often a somewhat delicate discussion, because it can easily slide
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Update on the Science Fair

In an earlier post, I wrote about an ethical dilemma that some of the fifth grade students with whom I’ve been working were facing regarding the upcoming Science Fair. The students told me today
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March

Between What I See and What I Say. . .for Roman Jakobson 1Between what I see and what I say,between what I say and what I keep silent,between what I keep silent and what I dream,between what I dream
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The Hundred Dresses

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (1944) is a great book to inspire discussions about the nature of friendship, the ethics of being a bystander, and questions about what moral duties we owe to
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Online Philosophy Resources

People often ask me about finding philosophy resources online. There is now a multiplicity of online resources available for free — online philosophy classes, lectures, materials, etc. This is a
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Science Fair and Ethics

Yesterday I showed up in the fifth grade classroom in which I’ve been teaching, prepared to talk with the students about whether you can get something form nothing, whether everything has a
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Dreams and dreaming

On Tuesday, the fifth grade students with whom I’ve been doing philosophy and I spent about 40 minutes talking about dreaming. We started with the students’ questions, which included: What
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The Book Thief and Psychological Egoism

On Friday I had a marvelous discussion with a group of students in an eighth grade English class about The Book Thief, a novel by Markus Zusak. The story is told from the perspective of Death, who
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February

The House in WinterHere,in the year’s late tidewash,a corner cupboard suddenly waversin low-flung sunlight,cupboard never quite visible before. Its jarsof last summer’s peacheshave come
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Philosophy as a way of life

When, in our first class together, I asked the fifth grade students with whom I’m doing philosophy this winter what they imagined was the definition of philosophy, one student volunteered that
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The mystery of the mind

The fifth grade class I’m working with had a wonderful discussion this week about the mind. We talked about what the mind is, whether it is the same thing as the brain, and, if not, what it
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Philosophy Teams

After 13 years of working in this field, I continue to analyze the most effective ways to make philosophy a more common offering in K-12 schools. Working with teachers to help them to develop the
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Thoughts and feelings

This week I started a series of philosophy sessions with a fifth grade class. This was a first introduction to philosophy for this group of students. I started by asking them if they had any idea what
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What Does It All Mean?

I love Thomas Nagel’s short 1987 book What Does It All Mean? It’s a really accessible introduction to philosophy for high school students and up, and it captures much of what drew me to
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Yellow and Pink

One of my favorite children’s books to use in philosophy classes (including with high school students) is William Steig’s Yellow and Pink. The story begins with two small wooden figures,
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January

The Snow Man One must have a mind of winterTo regard the frost and the boughsOf the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long timeTo behold the junipers shagged with ice,The spruces
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Puzzles about Ethics

A couple of years ago I created a series of ethics puzzles to introduce various moral questions to two fourth grade classes. I adapted some of these scenarios from puzzles created by others and made
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The Great Blueness and Other Predicaments

“Long ago there were no colors in the world at all. Almost everything was grey, and what was not grey was black or white. It was a time that was called The Great Greyness.” The Great
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December

Just Delicate NeedlesIt’s so delicate, the light.And there’s so little of it. The darkis huge.Just delicate needles, the light,in an endless night.And it has such a long way to gothrough
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What is art? Blog Series Part V

This will be the final post in this series. What is music?Is there some quality that anything considered music must have?Can any sound count as music?Does all music express emotion?Is the emotion that
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What is art? Blog Series Part IV

In the two sixth grade classrooms in which I’ve been teaching this aesthetics unit, the students and I spent a lot of time this week talking about the relationship between having feelings and
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November

My November Guest My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,Thinks these dark days of autumn rainAre beautiful as days can be;She loves the bare, the withered tree;She walks the sodden pasture lane.
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What is art? Blog Series Part III

This week the sixth graders and I read part of a chapter from Harry Stottlemeir’s Discovery (by Matthew Lipman, part of the curriculum developed by the Institute for the Advancement of
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What is art? Blog Series Part II

I decided that the second class of the philosophy of art series should involve actually looking at visual art and talking about it. I thought about taking the students to a local art gallery, and then
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What is art? Blog Series Part I

I’m going to write a series of posts about the philosophy of art unit I’m doing with sixth grade students this fall. Yesterday was the first session of the unit. We started by listing some
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October birthdays

October 1 Catharine MacKinnon (American, born 1946) October 4 Richard Rorty (American, born 1931) October 14 Hannah Arendt (German, born 1906) October 15 Friedrich Nietzsche (German, born 1844) and
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Can you test moral sense?

The Moral Sense Test is a Harvard University web-based study into the nature of moral judgments. The test is a series of moral dilemmas that purport to analyze the psychology behind our moral
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The One Who Walk Away from Omelas

The Ursula LeGuin short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas is a powerful story for discussing with high school students utilitarian ethics and the question of whether the suffering of one person
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Philosophy Talk and the Mystery of Music

A good resource for thinking about what questions to ask when talking to students about philosophy is Philosophy Talk, a weekly one-hour radio series exploring issues of philosophy. Calling itself
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Death and Philosophy

If we did not die, if our existence did not unravel in the endless darkness of death, would life be quite so precious, so extraordinary, so moving? Andre Comte-Sponville,Professor of Philosophy at the
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Is this really philosophy?

“. . . That slight uncertaintywhich makes us sure.” From Advice from the Museby Richard Wilbur The start of the school year and planning for the year’s philosophy classes. Usually I
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The Three Questions

“There once was a boy named Nikolai who sometimes felt uncertain about the right way to act. ‘I want to be a good person,’ he told his friends. ‘But I don’t always know the best way to do
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Getting philosophy into classrooms

I’m often asked how the center got started and about ways to get into schools to do philosophy with young people. I decided to start the center when I was about to finish my Ph.D. in 1996. I had
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Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust

Pen and inkdrawingby Mollie Hunt8th grade student Winthrop, WA, 2008 I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust, learning about the horror of it as an elementary school child, experiencing recurrent
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Being philosophically naïve

When I was a graduate student in philosophy, I sometimes thought that the initial wonder and enthusiasm that drew me to philosophy as a high school student was in danger of being eclipsed by the
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What are thoughts?

Among twenty snowy mountains,The only moving thingWas the eye of the blackbird.I was of three minds,Like a treeIn which there are three blackbirds. . . . From Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
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Why are we here?

At the end of our philosophy sessions together this year, I asked the 5th grade students with whom I’d been working what questions they’d like to keep talking about. I loved their
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Can Children Do Philosophy?

“The orgin of philosophy is wonder.”Plato, Theaetetus When I tell people I spend a lot of my time in K-12 classrooms doing philosophy with young people, often I’m met with a somewhat
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The Why Questions

Around the age of four most children start asking the “why” questions. Why do things have to be fair? Why do we have to die? Why is blue a color? Why do we have minds? The beginning of
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Searching…
Wondering Aloud: Philosophy with Young People is a blog that since 2008 has been written by Executive Director Jana Mohr Lone. Starting in 2022, a series of guest bloggers will be contributing to this blog.