Teaching Philosophy in the K-12 Classroom

We regularly engage in the act of thinking before expressing our thoughts. As we pursue knowledge, we tend to apply philosophical thoughts in our quest for reality, and that’s why philosophy becomes an essential discipline in the K-12 classroom. Simply put, philosophy is an activity of comprehensive critical thinking which involves unmasking and resolving most basic arguments based on rational reasoning.

Philosophy is closely tied to education since it tends to answer the question ‘Why.’ With that, the discipline can lead to the intellectual development of children and hence help them reach their full potential.

Introducing philosophy to children

It goes without explaining that children are at a stage of growth in their lives characterized by confusion, ignorance, and the lack of some core values and beliefs. With the introduction of philosophy in the K-12 classroom, learners might be granted an opportunity to dispel their irrational beliefs while enriching their understanding of nature in the long run.

With appropriate philosophical knowledge, learners can understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of certain aspects of the world including religion, the existence of superpowers, the basic rights of passage (birth, initiation, death) and other social aspects of society.

Philosophy is particularly essential to K-12 learners because it enriches their beliefs, widens their imagination, enriches their understanding of core values, and controls their emotions. Philosophy also helps improve student’s logic.

A good reason to involve philosophy in the K-12 classroom is that the discipline leads to the overall improvement of ethical behavior among young people. With desirable ethics, learners can distinguish between desirable and unwanted behavior. As such, students can take morally appropriate actions which in general leads to their intellectual development.

Learners should be introduced to Philosophy early on by creating a space for it in the timetable. For instance, in the early grades, elementary teachers can use popular picture books with heroic illustrations. The picture story of the Lion as the king of the jungle will prompt readers to discuss specific aspects of bravery, dominance, power, animal rights, revenge, and fairness.

Teachers can use captivating poems containing a problem-solving agenda. That would prompt readers to discuss the concept of being a problem solver, being patient, and being hardworking.

Six things to consider when introducing philosophy

  1. Create a safe space for the learners.
  2. Ensure that all learners have an elaborate support system.
  3. Involve parents and advise them to encourage their kids. Parents can also support their kids through home assignments.
  4. On a regular basis, educators should assess learners through reflective essays. In such writings, an educator can find out whether a student is making progress.
  5. Other evaluation tools that educators can use include imaginative drawings, music, role-playing in a group, etc.
  6. Lastly, educators can apply the concept of self-assessment and allow learners to evaluate their work, identify gaps, and improve their performance.

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