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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Philosophy for Children in a Pandemic

Assuming that U.S. schools will reopen this fall, how can students be given the opportunity to process the months of isolation from their friends and classmates? Perhaps this is the ideal time to introduce basic methods of philosophy: asking questions, reasoned discussion, and critical thinking.

The following excerpts from this article in The Conversation address this.

One way we can help children respond constructively to future existential threats is by teaching them philosophy. In the face of uncertainty, critical thinking skills that can assist with ethical decision making and reasoned argumentation are vital. These are particularly necessary for democracy to work well. How can we make and defend good decisions? Philosophy can help.

The best place to start discussing philosophy with children is with their own questions and topics about which they are already curious. Children have been asking questions to do with the pandemic and the restrictions on their freedom. The adults in their lives have had to explain why they can’t go to school or play with their friends, why washing their hands is so important, and why they need to keep two metres away from others.

With the possibility of future disruptions in the form of new or ongoing pandemics, severe weather and the effects of global warming, political upheaval or economic instability, all school children would benefit from studying philosophy.

Learning philosophy, particularly reasoned argumentation, dialogue and respectful disagreement, equips us with vital critical thinking skills. These skills will support the problem solving and ethical decision making required during uncertain ti; mes.

Related reading: Schools Discover the Value of Philosophy; Philosophy for Primary Students?; Why I Teach Philosophy in Primary School by Giacomo Esposito; Teach Philosophy in Primary Schools; The Benefits of Philosophical Studies; Philosophy: The Most Impractical Practical Tool; Philosophy Education in France; Popularity of Philosophy in Germany