Children and the Philosophy
Children should be taught philosophy at elementary level
Teachers should teach children philosophy through stories and debates.
The curiosity combined with rationalism, communication and morality will help children achieve their full potential in academic and personal life.
Abdul Hafeez Haral
Philosophy aims to question deeply-held assumptions and also seeks to answer the fundamental questions rationally. Children can be better students and good citizens, if they are taught philosophy. If taught at early age, philosophy can make children more curious, rational and good communicator. Moreover, for children to mature emotionally and become successful, they should be taught philosophy.
From Thales of Miletus who argued that everything is made up of water to Socrates who questioned about morality and courage, they used reasoning to find out the truth.
Philosophy, the ‘love of wisdom’, is characterized by argument, reasoning, asking questions and not on believing things simply because someone important has told you that they are true. For example, in Socratic times, people believed that being deceitful is immoral. Socrates asked Euthydemus a question that if your friend is feeling down and might kill himself, you steal his knife. Isn’t that a deceitful act? Of course, it’s deceitful yet moral, says Euthydemus. Socrates’ clever counter-example shows that Euthydemus’ general comment that being deceitful is immoral doesn’t apply to every situation.
Kids are born philosophers. They ask deep philosophical question such as why we are here. Their natural tendency to ask such questions should be harnessed by teaching them philosophy at elementary level.
Asking fundamental and deep questions—why we are here; how we know what we know—about ourselves and reality is philosophy. Kids are born philosophers. They ask deep philosophical question such as why we are here. Their natural tendency to ask such questions should be harnessed by teaching them philosophy at elementary level.
Following are the reasons why children should be taught philosophy:
First, Philosophy can enhances the inborn curiosity of asking deep questions. Teaching them how to ask the right question and philosophical questions can make them more curious about the nature of reality and knowledge. If children are curious, they are likely to come up with most astonishing questions like ‘do animals feel?’ Curiosity helps children to form questions from observations. For instance, visiting the zoo, children might ask the question that why monkeys have hands like us.
Second, philosophy will help children to be reasonable. Reasoning is the ability to assess things and situations rationally. Children with reasoning ability can see that if A happens then B will happen too. As philosophical children are better at reasoning, they question about blindly followed traditions and customs. A most common yet reasonable question asked by children is ‘why do we do this and that?’ Children can develop abstract thinking skills, a way of reasoning, which involves conceptualizing, making generalizations and arriving at conclusions. With the use of abstract thinking, children can process information received through their senses more effectively and will be able to connect it with the world. Furthermore, abstract thinking will help children to make sense of the world and knows important and unimportant things.
Third, philosophy can make children better at communicating. Teaching them philosophy will make them more effective in their writing and spoken language. Applying the principles and of logic, children can write and speak unambiguous sentences and construct well-organized paragraphs. In philosophy, Socratic questioning is a method of discovering the answers by asking questions. Children can use the same method in communication to find out the answers by themselves. It will strengthen their curiosity of understanding the world.
Last but not the least, morality, a branch of philosophy, which studies what’s right and wrong, can make children ethical, responsible student and good citizens. Imparting the knowledge of ethics to children can help them develop trustworthiness (Be honest. Don’t deceive, cheat or steal.); respect (Treat others with respect. Be tolerant of differences.); responsibility (Do what you are supposed to do. Use self-control); fairness (Treat others equally); caring (Be kind.); citizenship (Do your share). The Children with ethical sense can cooperate better and outperform other children in tests.
Children should be taught philosophy at elementary level because curiosity combined with rationalism, communication and morality will help children achieve their full potential in academic and personal life. Teachers should teach children philosophy through stories and debates.
Abdul Hafeez Haral is student of BS English, 2nd year at Shaheed Benzir Bhutto University Shaheed Benzir Abad.