Philosophy for Kids


I love the idea of teaching kids philosophy.

It encourages them to think critically about the world around them and their place in it. It teaches them to ask the big questions. It’s great training for life and learning.

I read a great article in the TED blog about it and it was compelling enough that I started planning right away. Called ‘Why we should teach philosophy to kids’, it said:

“In a study of 105 children, all around 10 years old, teachers spent an hour a week for 16 months teaching lessons based on philosophical inquiry. The philosophy-based lessons encouraged a community approach to “inquiry” in the classroom, with children sharing their views on Socratic questions posed by the teacher.

The result? At the end of 16 months,compared with 72 control children, the philosophy children showed significant improvements on tests of their verbal, numerical and spatial abilities

And two years later, when the philosophy children were tested again, their higher scores persisted — while the lower-scoring control group were, in some cases, declining further.”

Cool hey?

So I found a brilliant site called Teaching Children Philosophy which uses common kids’ books as a basis, and we started with Rainbow Fish. It is a little kids’ book which many of you would have read about how the little fish with the shiny scales doesn’t want to share his prize possessions. Through the book he learns the value of sharing and friendship. I was stunned at the quality of discussion the guidelines from the site yielded. All three kids from Shams (7) to Safiyah (12) really enjoyed discussing the moral values of the story and what they would have done in that scenario.

Motivated by the success of our first foray into philosophy, we moved on to reading ‘The Alchemist’ over the following weeks. It was a bit of a hard slog with Shams particularly, but once again there were some great discussions that came out. Alongside our daily spiritual teachings it was a great accompaniment.

I would highly recommend philosophy for any kids and would love to hear your experiences of it…



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sharyn Ryan
    May 27, 2012 @ 00:43:37

    Hey Danielle, I’ve also used the Rainbow Fish unit from the philosophy for children website, with Kindergarten but my hands down favourite is ‘The Lorax’ one. Am about to teach it again to my year 5 class here in Honiara. Last time I taught the Lorax unit the class wrote some really powerful poetry based on environmental issues. This has become very popular in Australian education and the lighthouse school for it is in the northern suburbs somewhere, our school sent staff there last year to investigate. All in all a great concept. Have been enjoying your posts by the way – very interesting.


    • dalishah
      May 27, 2012 @ 02:34:29

      That would be fantastic Sharyn…Do you use the questions from the site? We dont have a copy of the Lorax but perhaps we should get it!
      Thanks a lot for reading and commenting 🙂


  2. homeschoolingpenny
    Jun 06, 2012 @ 15:27:23

    I wrote a post about this a little while back, in 3 parts, but haven’t got on to doing it yet because we’ve been focused on preparing for our Europe trip. in case you’re interested. Thanks for the links. I’ll look into them!


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