Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Picture Books
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A documentary by Julie Akeret, presented by WGBY.
Synopsis: A diverse group of second graders at an urban charter school in Springfield, Massachusetts, 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.
Philosophy is not usually part of a second-grade curriculum, yet this documentary accompanies a group of college students who lead a series of philosophy classes for six- and seven-year-olds. The second graders learn some of the basic rules for having a philosophical discussion, from what it means to be a respectful listener who respects differences in opinion, to how to build a good argument when making a point. These young students are excited to be asked not only what they think, but why.
This film documents classes conducted at Martin Luther King Charter School by Mount Holyoke College students under the guidance of Philosophy Professor Thomas Wartenberg and President Lynn Pasquerella. The goal of Wartenberg and Pasquerella’s unique class is to give children an opportunity to pursue their natural curiosity and inclination for philosophy. In their curriculum, picture books become catalysts for philosophical discussion and an effective way to foster critical thinking skills as well as a lifelong love of reading.
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