After the kids had worked together and chosen their guidelines, our first discussion focused on the word – philosophy. What does it mean? I usually scribe these discussions on the whiteboard so we have a record of our ideas.
The word philosophy means ‘love of wisdom’. Let’s face it – the word ‘wisdom’ tucked in there, makes philosophy sound kind of tricky. But in essence, philosophers, even the greats like Socrates and Plato (just to name a few) simply investigated life and asked questions. All the time. Well, they were curious dudes!
In today’s session, we’ll shine a spotlight on the unique questions and ideas that swim around in our minds. What do you wonder about? What do you think about just before you fall off to sleep? Or in the car, as the world passes by you? Our Philosophy Journals (A4 visual diary) are the perfect net to catch these wispy and sometimes slippery ideas. In our discussion circle, we talk first about how some of our wonderings might be big and solid like What happens to me when I die? But there are plenty of intriguing smaller questions and it’s worthwhile jotting all of them down and chasing them around for a while. I always make it clear that sharing your ideas/writing is optional. I don’t want the kids to have to censor their work in any way. Their Philosophy Journal is theirs and theirs alone.
Here’s a poem I wrote to start us off:
What do you wonder about just before
you fall off to sleep?
Some people say space goes on forever
but it can’t.
Do jelly fish have feelings?
Can dogs really smell fear?
Do you ever wonder what you are doing here?
All these questions swim inside my head
Coming up for air
every now and then.
What do you wonder about just before you fall off to sleep?
By Beth Cregan
As inspiration, we read some poignant extracts from Ralph Fletcher’s book ‘A Writer’s Notebook’. Ralph reminds us that our wonderings make great creative writing. And then it’s time to write and think and write some more… and share and talk. Life after death.. Who created the world? Are people born evil or does something happen to them? Are kidnappers real?
The kids are keen to share and discuss their wonderings and what we discover is really interesting. Some of the wonderings are big ‘meaning of life’ questions that humans have pondered since the beginning of time. Technology may have shaped and changed some of these questions as discoveries are made and inventions created. In fact, discoveries and inventions are always created with a single thought! That’s inspiring! Some of our questions, like those about kidnappers and bullies, are probably more important to kids, and some questions are just uniquely ours. “Thinking is much more fun than I thought!” I smile at this because thinking is just about one of my favourite pastimes. Apart from your Philosophy Journal, I tell this group of children before me, you have everything you need to become an amazing philosopher…and it’s right before your eyes, or actually inside your heads. Your ideas are like gold!
Anyone who sets out on a journey to learn more about the world and to ponder ideas is a philosopher. No white togas or olive leaves required! The kids like hearing this, they smile at each other. Philosophers huh? Us? Well, of course! You don’t need to have ‘the answers’, (well that’s a relief! ) you only need to start listening to the questions…
Some members of our group are keen to share their wonderings with you.
Do You Ever Wonder?
Do you ever wonder
why our eyes are on our head and our toes on our feet?
Where does the sky meet the sea?
What makes a subwoofer beat?
Why do birds fly and ants crawl?
Who made the decisions that depended it all?
Who separated day from blissful night?
And surprises away from fright?
Questions are part of our everyday life.
We can’t stop asking,
There’s so much that might be.
How do we go and come?
How will I die?
How do we save someone?
How did apes transfer into humans?
How do you get knowledge about things that people don’t know about?
What will happen to me when I die?
Will I have a second chance of life?
Where does space end?
How did people communicate when language wasn’t invented?
How many stars are there in the universe?
Why are some people bad?
Why are we alive?
Is there really a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
Why can I sometimes feel sad?
How is pollution bad for the environment?
This program runs as part of The Ivanhoe Grammar Enrichment Program.