Friday, November 05, 2010


Philosophy Talk is a weekly radio show hosted by Stanford University philosophers John Perry and Ken Taylor; its tagline is, “The program that questions everything…except your intelligence.”

This week, they came to the University of Washington for a show about the Northwest Center for Philosophy for Children, the activity I’ve been involved with as Education Director for the past decade and a half or so. Two classes of students from John Muir Elementary, where my colleague, Jana Mohr, and I have been doing philosophy lessons with fourth graders this quarter, rode a bus to campus to take part in the event, as did a number of college students from the course we’re teaching in doing philosophy with pre-college students, along with a handful of students from Nova High School where teacher Terrence McKittrick is leading a class of high-schoolers who are learning to create philosophy lessons for younger kids; point being, as I look back upon it now was that there were people from ages 10 to about 70, in a room, at a major Research One university, wondering together about questions like, “What makes me me?”, “Is my brain the same as my mind?” and “What is happiness?”

While I’ve been doing philosophy with children now for almost twice as long as these kids are old, and have been instrumental in keeping the enterprise at the UW alive, I was sort of peripheral to the event; my main role was to meet the arriving schoolbus and pass out juiceboxes and granola bars, a task I performed with great aplomb, if I do say so myself.

The classroom of students I’m working with this quarter sort of go left out, too; they were sat in the back of the audience and didn’t get to answer any of the questions asked by the hosts; it didn’t seem quite right; what’s great, though, is that we’ll have the perfect foundation for wondering together next time about, “Is life fair?”


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