Should Children Do Philosophy?

le_penseurThe simple answer is “absolutely.” However, the longer answer is a great article by Peter Worley on Aeon Ideas.  Here’s an excerpt:

…If children encounter puzzles and problems that have a philosophical basis then children need a systematic way of approaching and tackling them. Puzzles and problems that have a philosophical basis are those where a tension or conflict arises between the concepts we have and our experience of the world. For instance, a child may have a conceptual intuition that time is constant, but then experience time seeming to fluctuate (‘Time flies when you’re having fun!’) Another example might be: ‘I am always the same person, but I change physically and in terms of my personality, so I can’t be the same person, can I?’ These are real problems for children, but unless they are given the opportunity to stop, reflect on, and explore these puzzles and problems, they are unlikely to go any further with them. So, because children do, in fact, encounter philosophical puzzles and problems, I argue that they should be given an opportunity to explore them, but also be given a systematic method for doing so. Philosophy provides such a method…

Read the whole article, and think about the reality that if a group of 7 year olds can deeply explore the question of “being” vs. “doing” (a question explored by some of our most prominent historical philosophers) then imagine what else they can be prepared to explore? And as the article also points out, the process of working out a philosophical quandary looks and feels a lot like that of working out many mathematical or scientific quandaries. It is probably safe to say that preparation for a “STEM” related career should require at least a basic understanding of philosophical inquiry into life, living, and meaning therein. Besides, would you really want your doctor to never have developed that intuition or honed those skills?

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