Monday, June 3, 2019

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 questions about death, living a mortal life, and the possibility of becoming immortal. I have posted about this book in the past

The students wondered whether, if you were immortal, you wouldn't feel any pain, physical or emotional.

"Maybe you wouldn't feel pain if you were immortal. I mean, pain is something uncomfortable and no one wants to feel it, so if I knew I wouldn't feel pain, I might want to be immortal."

"I think that if you were immortal, maybe you wouldn't feel physical pain anymore, but you would still be able to feel emotional pain. I think you would still have your emotions if you're immortal. But I think emotional pain scars people more than physical pain."

"If you couldn't feel emotional pain, I wouldn't want to become immortal, because feeling emotional pain helps you to feel what others feel."

"I agree with that. If you don't have any emotions, you're essentially like a robot, and you can't feel what other people feel."

Most of the children seemed to conclude that if becoming immortal meant you would stop feeling emotions, including emotional pain, they wouldn't want to be immortal. This led us to talking about whether you would want to be immortal in any event. 

Several children immediately said they would want to live forever. Why? One student responded it was because she was scared of dying, and many students agreed. 

Other children said they were not scared to die because they wanted to see what happened after death. One student commented, "I wouldn't want to live for so many thousands of years that everyone I ever knew would be dead." 

Several students noted that if they stayed the same age always, there would be many things they would never get to do. "Part of life is change," said one child. "Never changing would be a really different kind of life from what we're used to."  Another child remarked, "If I lived forever, once the sun exploded, I would just be floating around in space for eternity. That would be terrible."

The students explored the idea of "eternity," and one child reflected, "I think immortality is more frightening than death." Another child agreed, saying, "It’s scary to think of living forever. It would completely change how it feels to be alive." 

In his story "The Immortal," Jorge Luis Borges concurs: “Death…makes men precious…every act they execute may be their last…Everything among the mortals has the value of the irretrievable and the perilous.”

Friday, May 3, 2019

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 the story of a friendship that forms between two girls in a time and place in which a fence stretches through the town separating the white and black townspeople.

The students wanted to talk about who had made the fence and why. The first student who spoke said it was obvious, that the fence was made by white people because of racism. Other students speculated that the fence might have been put up for all kinds of reasons – farming, a company owning the land, two landowners keeping their property separate – but then it became a symbol, as one student put it, of "segregation and racism." 

"Metaphorically speaking, the fence was built by history. There have been lots of times of unfairness in history. But it's not all one-sided. Sometimes white people and black people just don't like each other, and both sides want to be separate." 

"Maybe, but in the story the white people were the ones with the power, and they built the fence to keep black people out."

"The fence is a warning. It's not a physical obstacle, because you can easily climb over it. It's a warning about what will happen to you if you violate the rules of segregation." 

This led to the question about whether the enforced separation between races still happens today.  

"Yes, but it's more vague and not a threat in the same way it was then. There aren't fences separating black and white people that are as intentional and obvious." 

"I agree, it's still happening, but not as publicly. It's more secret and private, and not as accepted by the community anymore." 

"It's not the law anymore, so it's less about segregation and more about the privileges white people have: white people getting jobs when black people are more experiences, white people being paid more, or white people just getting treated better. It's not as accepted by the community, so if you do something racist, people disapprove, but it's still there, just less distinct and publicly accepted." 

"I think that things are getting better. This school used to be totally segregated and now it's not. But racism is more a custom than a law now, and that makes it harder to get rid of it. People are used to racism and when something is a custom, it's much harder to change than it is to change the law." 

I was really struck by how well these students, a very diverse group, were able to talk about this issue without it being focused on the personal, as an abstract and important question that affects everyone's lives, but that could be explored in a dispassionate, thoughtful way. And it led me to think more about the distinction the student made between laws and customs, seeing customs as the more intractable of the two, and changing the law as only the first step toward genuine change.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

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 interesting conversation lately with children, and thought I would share some of them. 

In a fifth grade class last month, we read the story I'm a Frog by Mo Willems, about which I have written in the past. The story raises questions about the nature of pretending.

After reading the story, the children articulated the questions about which the story led them to wonder. They then voted to discuss the question, “Does everyone pretend?” 

"Everyone pretends, but kids pretend more. Kids have more time to play pretend. Like at recess." 

"I was wondering if dreaming counts as pretending. I kind of think it does, because when you dream you're imagining something." 

"I disagree. Dreams aren't pretending because they are based on what happens to you in real life and turns whatever happens into a kind of jumbled mess. Actually, I think it could go either way. What you dream is not real, it's made up, but you don't get to choose, you don't make it up." 

"I think that if imagining something when you're awake is a form of pretending, but you're not actually doing anything, just fantasizing about something, then dreaming could be pretending too." 

"I don't know if dreaming really counts, because you're sleeping and you might not even remember what you dream. Daydreaming, where you're making up a fantasy in your head, counts as pretending, but not dreaming while you're asleep." 

"Dreaming isn't a form of pretending because you're not intending to pretend anything." 

"I agree. You have to be able to control when you pretend. You can just do it in your head, you don't have to do physical stuff. But you do have to have control." 

I asked if this meant that pretending had to be intentional, though it did not require doing anything in particular other than thinking about it. In the story, Piggy defines pretending as acting as if you are something you're not – is that right? 

"I think you can pretend to be something you are, too. Like if you have low self-esteem, and you didn't think you could do something, you could pretend you could do it, and then maybe you actually could do it." 

"If pretending is acting like something you're not, everyone does pretend. Probably everyone dressed up for Halloween at least once. And even if you didn't, you pretend that everyone else is actually who they are dressed up to be." 

"I think that pretending is a way of helping your brain practice being creative. You get new ideas by giving yourself a break. Like if you do a lot of math, and you don't take any breaks and your mind gets cluttered and can't focus as well, pretending will open up more creativity for you." 

"There is definitely a connection between creativity and pretending. You can spread your creativity in lots of ways, like through art. Pretending is another way to do that." 

I asked, if pretending is positive and important, why do we stop? 

"Maturity. You see other people stopping and you think it's not cool to pretend anymore, that it's immature." 

"Most kids pretend. When you're older, maturity takes over your creativity. You think, 'I'm older, I'm not supposed to be doing this anymore, it's immature.' " 

"Everyone pretends, some more and some less, and about different things. An adult might not pretend to be a flower princess, but an adult might pretend that they have a lot of money, or that they are the ideal self they want to be." 

"When you're younger, you pretend, and you're more confident it can actually happen. When you're older, you can still pretend the same thing, but you think it probably won't happen." 

"But maybe instead of pretending to be something, as an adult you can actually just try to become that thing." 

As always, the children left me with a lot to consider. In particular, I've been thinking ever since our conversation about the ways in which pretending to be something you actually are, but perhaps are not confident that you are, can allow you to fully grow into that part of yourself.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

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 exhibit abilities that adults often strive to recapture. To point out a few examples, children tend to have a strong sense of wonder, vibrant imaginative capacities, a heightened awareness of the world around us, and an ease with vulnerability. As adults, we work to cultivate these childlike qualities, to keep alive our wondering, questioning selves, nurture our imaginative capacities, pay more focused attention in our daily lives, and to be more open to genuine encounters with others. Yet we don’t seem to recognize that children are sources of wisdom for revitalizing these aspects of ourselves.

Children exhibit a capacious capacity for wonder, viewing the world through new eyes and appreciating the mysteries at the heart of life. A strong sense of wonder leads to a willingness to be surprised, to approach the world with a sense of astonishment. This is sometimes referred to as “beginner’s mind,” where we see what is around us with a fresh perspective. Watch a four-year-old in a spring garden, looking with wide eyes at flowers growing out of the ground.  Or listen to the "why?" questions of a five year old, seeking to understand the world around her.

Search “childlike wonder” online and you will find thousands of pages devoted to helping adults “regain their childlike wonder.” Few of these pages, however, suggest that adults should seek the help of children. Yet children often are experts in viewing what is around them, even the simplest things, with wonder.

When wonder is articulated, it is often through questions, and children’s questions demonstrate a keen awareness of life’s preciousness and fragility. When I recently asked groups of nine and ten year old students what they thought were life’s most important questions, their responses included:

Why are we alive?
Who made God?
Is there a universe beyond the universe?
What happens when we die?
Could the world ever end?
What will happen to the world in 20 years?
What makes someone love you?
What is the right thing to do?
Will I be what I want to be when I grow up?
Do my friends like me?
What is space made of?
What is the meaning of life?
Do I matter?
Will people remember me?

I will be writing posts here much less frequently this academic year, as I am trying to get this book written!

Friday, June 22, 2018

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 something to count as a dessert. It's fun, and also is a reminder that philosophical questions can be found in the most ordinary activities.

I typically bring in some sweet treats (cupcakes, cookies, etc.) and distribute them to the students. Then I ask them, "Is this dessert?"

In both classes last week, some of the students said the cookies were dessert, because they were sweet. Other students claimed that the cookies were not dessert, because they were not eaten after a meal. Sweets not eaten after a meal, several students asserted, were "treats," not dessert.

What makes a dessert a dessert?

Some students think that it is the kind of food that matters -- only certain foods count as dessert, because dessert requires sugar, most say. Other students argue that any food can be a dessert, as long as it is a treat at the end of a meal. In one class, I asked the students to imagine that they invited me for dinner and asked me to bring dessert, and I brought brussels sprouts because I like them and they are a treat for me. What would they think?

This led to a conversation about the difference between what we might like as a dessert and what is commonly understood by the term 'dessert.' We agreed that usually when people ask you to bring dessert, they are asking for something sweet. But does that mean that all desserts have to be sweet? Or eaten at a certain time?

In one of the classes, we went around the room and students stated their favorite desserts or desserts they liked. At the end, I asked whether the students thought that desserts were important.

One student claimed that dessert is like "coffee for kids," because "it packs us with energy, but after a while it makes us tired." Another student stated that, "It's not good for your teeth, or your health, so it's not important. It's not really needed in the world."

Several students disagreed. "It is important," said one student. "You need food to taste good, so dessert is important. It's important to have good tasting food."

"It makes me happy because it tastes good," offered another student.

"I think it can be like a way for people to escape, like a drug. It could lead to obesity and heart attacks. If it makes you happy and you go on eating, then it will stop making you happy."

"I don't think dessert makes you happy. It's a filler for other interesting things. It makes you happy but you could do something else to make you happy."

"Sweets don't make you happy because the happiness is already inside you. Happy is a neutral state, how you are if you aren't sad or angry. You can't make yourself happy, you just are happy, or not."

"I disagree. I think that part of the reason dessert does make you happy is because we don't always eat it. If we had it all the time, we wouldn't look forward to it. The specialness of it is what makes us happy."

Finding perplexity in the everyday is one of the things I hope students take away from their involvement in philosophy classes.

This will be my last post for the school year. Back in the fall!

Monday, May 14, 2018

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 sessions has much to offer, not every student is immediately comfortable with this approach. The larger the class size, for example, the more challenging this model can be for many students, especially at the inception of a philosophy program.

Alternatives to large group discussions can inspire more students to engage in philosophical inquiry. Philosophy discussion can start with small group work or turn and talk” exchanges (in which pairs of students share their reactions to a prompt with each other). The use of silent discussions” is a structure in which students communicate solely in writing, which gives students who are less comfortable with the give-and-take of a fast-moving verbal philosophical discussion access to a philosophical exchange that proceeds more slowly and deliberately. Bringing in art, music, movement, and games can help reach a wide variety of learners.

What constitutes participation in a philosophy session? Should we expand our understanding of what counts as participation? Are there avenues for students to participate silently? Can active listening count as participation? How do we view the silence of students?

When a student is silent, there are likely to be multiple reasons for that silence – personal, social and cultural. Given this, rather than making assumptions for why a particular student is not participating verbally in discussions, the facilitator can approach silence as an inevitable aspect of philosophy sessions, and ensure that the range of options for participation demonstrates attentiveness to the multiplicity of student communication styles.

Three approaches in particular can be useful for responding to silence. 

First, the group can understand silence as a powerful aspect of a philosophical discussion. When the facilitator allows silence to linger, this makes space for students who are not the first to jump in to fill that space with speech and allows for the development of a collective comfort with silence as part of inquiry. 

Second, the nature of silence can be a subject for philosophical investigation with students. Ask students about how and when participation can occur through silence, inquire about the meaning of silence, and analyze the differences between choosing silence and being silenced. 

Finally, silence, involving listening and reflection, can be understood as one form of participation in the classroom experience. When silence is accepted as a form of participation, space opens up for more students to engage with philosophical topics. A student in one of my classes commented, This is the first class I’ve ever been in where I didn’t feel uncomfortable about being quiet most of the time and where I really wanted to speak when I did.”

When students who need more time for reflection before speaking have a choice whether to participate verbally, this allows them to take that time. This does not mean, however, that we allow students to disengage from what is happening or that we accept student invisibility. Silence as a form of participation must be coupled with related strategies that encourage and support a wide range of participation styles, including various small group practices. 

Another effective strategy is to employ writing as a regular part of philosophy sessions, particularly in third grade and up, while utilizing art in earlier grades. The use, for example, of philosophy journals as places for students to record their questions and reflect about texts and class discussions is an effective way to take into account varying student communication styles. Writing provides a comfortable means of expression for students less comfortable with speaking in large groups, with the classroom’s dominant language, and/or with the pace of fast-moving philosophical discussions. The quiet space that journal writing creates also gives students time to grow comfortable with the give-and-take of a philosophy discussion. From time to time, the philosophy teacher can collect the journals and respond in writing to students directly, providing another means of developing trust and furthering philosophical conversation with individual students.

Monday, April 30, 2018

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 community. The activity focuses on two key skills, both important for doing philosophy  clear communication and active listening. 

When we do philosophy, it’s very important that we learn to express ourselves with clarity, to say what we mean in a way that others can understand us. It’s also vital that we listen actively: we need to ask questions when we don’t understand, to rephrase and restate what others say, and to try to really listen to what others have to say in order to advance mutual understanding.

To start the activity, pair students up, and then have them arrange their chairs back-to-back so that one of the members of the pair faces the board and the other faces away. The student who faces away from the board needs to have a surface to draw on (usually a notebook), a blank piece of paper, and something to draw with. A crayon or marker is ideal since students will eventually display what they draw to their classmates, so something bright and easy to see from across a classroom works best.

The explanation of the exercise goes something like this: “This exercise is called ‘Blind Painter.’ It helps us to communicate more clearly and to be better, more active listeners. The way it works is that the one of you facing away from the board is a painter, but you are blind to everything except what you are painting. The good news is you have a set of eyes to help you, your partner. I am going to draw a picture on the board and you, the painter, are to try to recreate it. However, you can’t look at what I’m drawing; only your “eyes” can do that. Students who are the “eyes” will have to describe to your partners, the painters, what I’m drawing. You need to keep in mind two rules: first, the “eyes” cannot look at the painter's paper, and second, the painter cannot look at what I am drawing. Consequently, you both will have to use those two skills I mentioned — communicating clearly and active listening — in order to successfully complete your drawing.”

Note that students should feel comfortable engaging in a discussion with each other, but that they should do so in a kind of “stage whisper” since, with some many students talking simultaneously, the room can get pretty loud.

Commence drawing a picture on the board. Do so slowly, one or two lines at a time, so that the pairs of students can keep up. Monitor the process to make sure you don’t too far ahead of the students. Any picture is fine, but something simple works best, for example, a simple little scene with a house and a mountain and a tree.

When the drawing is completed, make a box around the whole picture to indicate that it’s finished. Invite the painters to take a look at what been drawn and for the pairs to see how close the painter's drawing is to the original. Ask all the painters to come to the front of the room and display their drawings. Then facilitate a question-and-answer session about what worked and what didn’t and how, perhaps, painters and “eyes” could do a better job of communicating and listening.

Typically, painters commend their “eyes” for giving precise instructions, especially for describing what to draw in terms of recognizable shapes, like triangles, squares, and easily identifiable objects like clouds and letters. The most common complaint is that their “eyes” gave confusing information in regards to the placement — right, left, up, or down — of items in the drawing. Brainstorm together about how to build upon what worked and improve upon what didn’t for the next go-round.

At the conclusion of this discussion, students get back into their pairs, with the former “eyes” now playing the role of painter and vice-versa. This time around, it’s interesting to draw a much less easy-to-follow drawing. (Usually, we draw a cartoon head, something like Fred Flintstone or Homer Simpson. Unlike the first drawing, this one doesn’t have easily identifiable objects like trees and houses. Typically, therefore, students have a far more difficult time of recreating the drawing.)

At the conclusion of this drawing, again invite the painters to compare their works to the one on the board. Ask them to come to the front of the room and again display what they’ve done. (Without fail, the drawings are more interesting this time around, even though they tend not to look very much like what was drawn on the board.)

At this point, lead a discussion about why this time around was so much trickier and what could have been done to make it easier for the painters to match the drawing on the board. (Sometimes, a discussion about the nature of art emerges here. Students often want to talk about whether the pieces in the second round — which admittedly look little like what was drawn on the board — aren’t, in fact, more interesting works of art than those in the first round.) Often students want to talk about whether or not a painter has “failed” if his or her artwork doesn’t match what the original picture. 

Occasionally, some students get very exercised about their drawing (or their partner’s) not looking like what the teacher has drawn. From time to time, this can lead to a rich discussion of whether or not it was fair that the second time was so much harder. A teacher might put this up for grabs as a topic to inquire about: is it fair that some people face harder challenges than others? If so, why? If not, why not? What if facing those challenges leads to superior outcomes (like more artistic drawings?) Would you rather be an expert at something simple or a novice at something complex?

The main thing that comes out of the discussion, though, is the value of communicating effectively. Students really do come to see how what they say can be interpreted and/or misinterpreted by someone else. And the connection to  philosophical discussion can therefore be made pretty easily.

The other point that is worth mentioning is that sometimes our best efforts to communicate effectively fail because we don’t really have the complete picture of what we’re trying to share with each other. This is illustrated pretty well by the second round of the exercise. Because what is being illustrated doesn’t really become obvious until the artist is finished — that is, it doesn’t really look like the head of Fred Flintstone until the last few marks are made — it’s hard for us to communicate what we’re seeing. Had a set of “eyes,” though, for instance, waited until the drawing was done and then told his or her painter to draw a cartoon head of Fred Flintstone, the drawing might have come out much closer to what was put on the board. Students tend to understand appreciate this point and are able to see the connection to the study of philosophy quite easily. But just in case, it’s worthwhile making that point explicitly: philosophy is like this  sometimes it doesn’t make sense until we get to the very end. We have to be willing to ‘live in the question’ and allow the whole picture to emerge. Then, when we’re all finished, we can look back at what we’ve done and understand what it all meant.
Again, having done philosophy even just a couple of times, students will recognize this dynamic and appreciate how familiar it is to the practice of philosophical inquiry.

Friday, April 20, 2018

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 of any children's book author. 

In "Alone," a story in Days With Frog and ToadToad shows up at Frog's house to find a note on Frog's front door that reads, “Dear Toad, I am not at home. I went out. I want to be alone.” Toad starts to worry that Frog is sad and needs cheering up, and then begins to question whether Frog's desire to be alone means that Frog no longer wants to be his friend. When he finds Frog, Frog tells Toad that in fact he is very happy and just wanted to be alone to think about how fine everything is, including having Toad for a friend.

The story raises questions about the relationship between loneliness and being alone. Are we always lonely when we're alone? Does being lonely require being alone? What does it mean to be lonely? Is loneliness an emotion? What is the relationship between loneliness and sadness? Does friendship benefit from friends wanting time alone?  Can loneliness actually be worse when we are with other people than when we are alone?

I talked with a group of fourth grade students recently about this story. Several commented that sometimes they do just want to be alone, but they were not sure that their friends always understand this.

"I think sometimes people like being alone to think about their friends. Maybe Frog just wanted to think about how good a friend Toad is."

"I think that you don't always want to be with your friends, and sometimes you want to think about like, how you and your friend met, and you want to be alone to think about those things. I can understand how Frog felt."

One student observed that though we think it's kind of funny that Toad reacts so strongly to Frog wanting time alone, that actually when a friend tells us that he or she wants to be alone, it "might make you feel a little bad, like you did something wrong." And other students noted that you can have a variety of motivations for saying you want to be alone -- that "sometimes you really do just want to be alone," but other times "you say you want to be alone, but you really want someone to check in with you because maybe you're feeling sad."

"The difference between being alone and being lonely is the difference between being alone because you want to be alone, you're trying to be alone, and being alone because you don't have someone to talk to and you are looking for someone to talk to."

"But sometimes you can be lonely and not want to talk to anyone else at all."

"If you want to be alone, you want to be alone, to have time to yourself. If you're lonely,  you have no option to ask someone to play with you. There's no one, really. There's people, but you feel like no one really cares about you or want to play with you."

"Being lonely can be being in a situation where everyone else seems to know each other and you feel on the outside."

"Sometimes I feel when there's people around me, I don't want to be with them, because I feel sad. I think that you're often sad when you're lonely." 

"You can feel lonely and scared too, without actually feeling sad. Like you just got scared by something and you don't really want to be around anyone, but you're not sad, you're just scared and trying to calm down."

"Or you can be lonely and mad. Like you got in a fight with a friend and you feel really lonely and angry, but not really sad."

"Sometimes I feel lonely and not sad, maybe just confused and a little awkward. Like when you are with people who aren't getting along. Or you don't really know the people you're with."

"I think you can be lonely without feeling another emotion. Say you were in a different place and everyone was speaking a different language. So you feel lonely, but just that, not really another emotion."

"Normally if you're lonely it's for a reason. Your friends are mad at you, you don't know anyone, or some other situation that causes you to feel lonely."

"Sometimes when I'm lonely I just feel not involved in things."

"I think lonely is a short-term feeling. Usually it lasts for a little while. Unless you are too scared to fix it, like when you have a fight with your friend, and you figure it out."

"Lonely is when you're with other people, but you don't feel like they know you're there."

Monday, April 9, 2018

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 students discussing what they saw as the main differences between being a child and being an adult.

The children contended that children, on the one hand, have less worries, more free time, fewer responsibilities, and less choice about how to spend their time. Adults, on the other hand, have greater responsibilities and obligations to take care of other people, but more freedom and choice. The conversation then led to an examination of the differences between adults and children in making decisions.

One student noted that "parents protect you from bad decisions."

"Some parents," responded another student. "Some adults make bad decisions, like drinking and smoking, and don't treat their kids well."

"But many adults do make good decisions. They have more knowledge in some things and so are better able to make good decisions."

"But really the ones with the most knowledge are babies. They see that they have the potential to do anything."

"But if you're a baby or a child, you don't have to take care of yourself. Adults do that for you."

"And some parents want their children to do better than them, so they help them to make good decisions."

"Babies are the future you. The future generation. So it's natural for adults to want to help babies and children."

“Not always. My father isn’t interested in helping me. I can see that he loves my brother way more than he cares about me.”

“Some adults don’t want to help children, because they are more focused on themselves.”

"But when you're an adult, you get to decide how to spend your time and make choices about lots of things. Kids sometimes can't even decide the smallest things, like what to eat."

"If you don't have the freedom to make your own decisions as a child, how will you learn to make good decisions as an adult?"

"But sometimes you're asked to make decisions that you shouldn't have to make. Like my parents asked me to choose if I wanted to be with my dad or my mom when they got divorced."

"I think that adults can be more likely to make bad decisions, because they have access to things kids can't get. And some adults don't want to help children make good decisions, because they are more focused on themselves."

"I think that children sometimes can make better decisions than adults. They're more likely not to be influenced by their friends. Adults care so much about what other people think. Children are more themselves."

"We are talking about children and adults, but what is a child? When do you become an adult?"

"At 18."

"I don't know. I mean, you are always someone's child, right? And if you're a parent, you are always going to love your child and think of them as your child, no matter how old they are."

"I think that childhood never stops."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

I mean, we are always in childhood. We become who we are in childhood. When you're an adult, you're just an older child."

"I agree. We are always the same people we were when we were born. Baby to death, still the same person."

"When you think about it, childhood and adulthood are just ideas people thought of and then they put boundaries around these names to create something that isn't actually real. There really is no such thing as 'being a child' or 'being an adult.' They're just labels. We're all people."

"I agree. We are always growing and changing. Why do we think there's such a big difference between children and adults?"