Monday, June 1, 2009

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 included students majoring in philosophy and education.

On Thursday the seminar students presented the lesson plans they had implemented in the classrooms in which they had been working. The philosophy sessions they had led ranged from discussions about how we know what we know in a second/third grade classroom to a fourth grade class questioning the nature of friendship to explorations of identity with fifth grade students to a dialogue about the nature of good and evil in a high school classroom.

One pair of students who worked with second and third graders came up the idea of doing a book-making activity, in which the children created their own “philosophy books” using paper, scissors, and pens. The books had pages designated for the following questions, which the class discussed and the students filled in as the discussion ensued:

What is philosophy?
How do you know what you know?
An original philosophy question, which the children drew and/or wrote. The students ended up asking questions such as “Are there dragons? and “Are aliens real?” and “What is the meaning of time?”

Most of the college students had rewarding experiences bringing philosophy into pre-college classrooms, and the teachers with whom they worked really enjoyed the opportunity to have their students introduced to philosophy. One seminar student wrote, “After taking this course, I discovered that if I become a teacher, I want to be a teacher who produces excitement in her students. I’d want my future students to know what philosophy is and to appreciate the wonder that arises in thinking as a philosopher. I’d want them to go about their classes and their lives with this kind of thought."

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