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Philosophically Counseling Children

Author(s): Peter B. Raabe

Journal: Analytic Teaching and Philosophical Praxis
ISSN 0890-5118

Volume: 21;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 127;
Date: 2002;
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When I do philosophy with children in elementary school discussions are in the form of a «community of inquiry» and are based primarily on topics discovered in the material developed by Matthew Lipman for his Philosophy for Children program.1 Philosophical discussions with children, although typically carried out within a much more limited vocabulary, can be every bit as insightful, and offer insights equally as profound as those within the capabilities of a trained philosopher. Simple language should not be confused with simplistic thought.But discussion with children is often not of the same theoretical orientation as that found in most undergraduate university philosophy courses. This is especially true of those classes whose children have elected to choose their own topics of discussion based either on issues of the day or actual personal concerns. Discussions I have had with elementary school children have dealt with issues such as whether there is a difference between boys and girls (beyond the biological), whether it’s ever OK to he or steal, what causes someone to want to commit suicide, whether or not God exists, what constitutes a good friend, and what you should do if a friend says he wants to kill himself. It is when sensitive topics such as these are discussed that philosophy in the classroom departs from a mere academic exercise and transforms into philosophical group counseling.
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