Brilliant Combination of Teaching and Outreach (updated)

Brilliant Combination of Teaching and Outreach (updated)


Mount Holyoke philosophy professor Thomas Wartenberg and College President Lynn Pasquerella co-teach a course called “Philosophy for Children.” An article at masslive.com describes it:

As part of the course, college students are teaching second graders at the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence in Springfield to question their own assumptions, listen to one another’s points of view and sometimes even change their minds—all with the help of children’s books…

The Mount Holyoke students spend several weeks in class learning the principles of philosophy–and how to teach them on an elementary level–before facilitating discussions among the children and their teachers in person. The college students teach once a week for 45 minutes, the standard length of the school’s periods. They are there for seven or eight weeks. This is the eighth year the Mount Holyoke students have been at the charter school.

The course is the subject of an upcoming documentary entitled Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Picture Books that will air on PBS affiliate WGBY on Monday, November 3rd at 8pm. A brief excerpt from the documentary is viewable here, and the whole film will be available to watch there starting on November 4th.

If you know of similar programs at other schools, please share that knowledge in the comments.

UPDATE (11/7/14): The documentary is now online here.

UPDATE (11/9/14): Several people have commented below about similar programs at their schools. See, for example, this article about the course at University of Oregon (via Paul Bodin).

(art: from the cover of The Red Book by Barbara Lehman, a beautiful wordless children’s book on paradox, fiction, and friendship)

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