Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Picture Books

Grandparents often express amazement and pride at the genius of their grandchildren.  In truth, children’s natural intelligence and capacity to learn challenging concepts can often be underestimated, even by educators.  The documentary Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Picture Books by Julie Akeret and presented by WGBY, which was in production when we shared it here late in August, is ready to air tonight at 8p.  For those of you unable to watch, the film will be available at WGBY’s website after its premiere. 

The film documents classes conducted by Mount Holyoke College at Martin Luther King Charter School in Springfield MA.  A diverse group of second graders learns to love books and reading as they argue about some of life’s headiest issues, using picture books as a starting point for their discussions.

Mount Holyoke students are under the guidance of Philosophy Professor Thomas Wartenberg and President Lynn Pasquerella with the goal of giving children an opportunity to pursue their natural curiosity and inclination for philosophy.  These children learn some of the basic rules for having a philosophical discussion, from what it means to be a listener who respects differences in opinion, to how to build a good argument when making a point — all of which sounds like worthwhile learning for grownups!


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