I’ve always thought it would be pretty neat if I could have philosophical discussions with my kids. Why? Because my kids are constantly coming up with important life questions that I, being a mere mortal, cannot answer. Questions like, “What is love?”; “Is it always wrong to lie?”; “What does it mean to be fair?”
It’s so important to discuss these issues in a meaningful way, and fortunately, some of the greatest minds have already done so for millenia. Unfortunately, the language of philosophy is complex for children, making the ideas difficult to understand. Until now.
I bought “Philosphy for Kids,” which promised, “40 Fun Questions that help you wonder…about everything!” An activity-based workbook, each chapter combines a central question with a personality test (which kids love,) real-life situations, thoughts from a few philosophers, and questions for further thought. Chapters are short, and uses language that is easy to understand. Our favourites so far: “Should you be rewarded for your efforts in school?” and “Are you the same person you were five years ago?”
The book is best shared by several participants, since it engages siblings and parents in sometimes passionate debates. “Philosophy for Kids” is a great introduction to philosophy, and a great springboard for conversations about life’s big questions.
Since I have an almost teen daughter, I also bought “Philosophy for Teens.” (Different author.) Similar structure to “Philosophy for Kids,” but issues are geared toward a teenager’s interests, such as, “What is Love?” ; “Is Lying Always Wrong?”
My daughter is reading through some of the chapters herself, which is fine. I am reading some on my own as well, so we’ve had a few good discussions. Although this book makes a great introduction for teenagers interested in philosophy, I think it would be more suited to the interactive environment of a classroom. Teachers looking to spark lively discussions will find the questions and activities helpful. Lots of great topics which can be applied to lessons in literature and in science.
It’s really too bad that philosophy isn’t part of the school curriculum, because it fosters that sense of wonder so essential to developing a desire for learning.
One last note: No need for any previous knowledge to use these books. As expressed in “Philosophy for Kids:” “If you have ever wondered about why you felt a certain way when things happen to you, or why animals or plants do what they do, or why stars shine at night, or why a machine works, then you might be a philosopher.”