Philosophy for Children

Hello everyone,

I’m working on a project to help children understand the concept of worldviews and explore the most popular ones. While the content for this can be generated in a highly engaging format, it would be important for children to also use appropriate ‘thinking tools’ to understand, internalize and fully exercise these abstract concepts in a dialogical form. (Ex. Laws of logic) Would philosophy be a good foundation to build the right-thinking capacities for understanding worldviews? Would you see any harm in introducing philosophy as a subject that may cause more confusion instead of clarity? I’m happy to grab any good resources/methods/tools that are shared with regards to this topic.

Thanks,
Archana

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@Archana, I am not a teacher but as I spend time teaching my own children, what I see is that in the early years, kids like clear facts in black and white. They are also very good at memorizing information and so these are the best years for laying down the foundations. Any critical thinking that is encouraged must be to bolster these foundations but not compete with these foundations. Habits such as love for God’s word and daily prayer give security to a child. If another belief system is talked about, very clear arguments of how that view contradicts the Bible and how the biblical worldview corresponds to reality may need to be emphasized. Otherwise, what could be at stake may be the sense of security in God and bible for the child. Elementary school curriculum with very basic introduction to other worldviews and some apologetics that we have used for our kids is called ‘Deep root curriculum’. It gives basic definitions of other worldviews, contrasts it with the bible, emphasizes memory work and teaches about godly character. We have enjoyed the simplicity and clarity with which the concepts are presented in this curriculum. Kids find it engaging and easy to grasp.

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Well, @Lakshmismehta - for someone who’s not teacher, I think you did pretty well there - and I was a teacher for over 20 years!

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Thanks for sharing @Lakshmismehta. This is great perspective and exactly what I was trying to understand through my second question. I totally agree with what you’ve shared and believe I would do the same with my children as well. I also loved the Deep Root Curriculum and have already start to immerse in it! Quite thankful for the access and brilliant talent in creating these resources. A little context to the project - This would mostly be an input to the public education system and would have stakeholders within the academic field who can vouch for a deep thought within children, promoting tools for thinking that can be applied in multiple subjects, inter-faith dialogue being an example within social sciences. So, we’re devising methods that can be used as a common foundation for children from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. @jlyons - I’m happy to learn that you’re a teacher! Its a great profession with so much impact. Would love to hear your thoughts on how to shape the minds of children from other backgrounds, particularly where the Bible being preached may not be allowed systemically. I’ve taught in a Muslim school through a fellowship program and have definitely seen children being capable of understanding differences, and wanting to explore more. I noticed they tend to get defensive mostly when their belief system is being attacked, so I’m looking for a channel that allows awareness about different belief systems, dialogue to grow to understand about the differences and grows metacognition. This way may just make a small shift in growing intentionality and awareness about the choices they make as they grow older.

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Hi @Archana thank you for asking this question as it’s one I’m interested in too. I’ve been homeschooling my kids (age 7 and under) for 16 months now and have wondered about how to develop critical thinking in them. I’m also in the process of setting up a Christian school which would promote critical thinking from a biblical worldview. In my research of resources for my homeschool, I came across the following website. I haven’t used their resources yet as i think my kids are too young, but it’s one I intend to buy and read through in the next year or so. It might give you some ideas anyway as you adapt for an inclusive approach for inter faith dialogues.

I think what @Lakshmismehta shared about reinforcing the Biblical truth before introducing other beliefs is really important, and one reason I took my daughter out of main stream school. Like you, I want to engage my children with all ideas and beliefs - I think we all know the importance of that here - but only once the foundations of Biblical truth are understood so that they don’t become confused. However, this may not be an issue if you’re entering into multi faith schools or public schools.

I think you’re working on something really great and would be interested to hear how it goes.

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Thanks @jlyons! Its great to hear that from you as a teacher. :blush: As parents we may see some needs in our children but I am so thankful for teachers as they understand the means to meet those needs.

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@Archana You already have some good input about some teaching materials and techniques above. I just want to highlight something that underlies the other posts: I do not need to be doctrinaire in order to teach good doctrine. In other words, I encourage my son to ask a lot of questions and I frequently answer his questions in the form of other questions in order to guide him in the thinking process.

For example, we have a big picture book about the history of Egypt. We look at the pictures, read the text, and discuss them in light of the things that we have read about in the Bible, Sunday School, and life experience. He is fascinated by the Egyptian pantheon. He thinks that it does not make sense because it is worshipping Creation, not its Creator, and we have not studied (to my knowledge) Romans 1!

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@Lakshmismehta @jlyons @artownsend and @blbossard - These are helpful inputs to what I was weighing in my mind. It was crucial to get this step validated before building onto it. Thankyou for taking the time to share, really appreciate the help :stars:

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Hello, @Archana. Thank you for having a heart for children and wanting them to be strong in their ability to understand others and ideas.

I know next to nothing about philosophy, but here is something I recently learned that’s interesting. Michael Ramsden, in a lecture called The Ontological Root of the Gospel (maybe you took the recent short course and heard this, too?) says that any religious or philosophical system is rooted or grounded in thinking, feeling, or doing. Christianity, though, is rooted and grounded in being. Being as in who we are in a core way, literally changed by Christ. I’m not sure how that intersects with your thoughts on approaching children with philosophy, but it was neat info.

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