Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I've been wanting to start a philosophy class but have been putting it off because I didn't feel quite ready. I knew my students were ready.  I think it's a mistake to wait until college to teach philosophy, because kids are very philosophical (at least some of them are), and we're missing out on their perspective. Also, it helps them learn to listen, think, disagree respectfully, and form educated opinions.  I asked Sarah to quote 1 Timothy 4:12, and we began.  I didn't regale them with names of ancient philosophers and their beliefs (though I plan to get into that in the future); I just wanted to have an intelligent conversation.

We've always had conversations, but today I taught (or rather, facilitated) our first structured class.  Sarah read one of our old favorite picture books (Frederick by Leo Lionni), and we had a discussion about what constitutes work and what it means to be part of a community.  It was a lively discussion during which I mostly asked questions and enjoyed listening to their beautifully uncluttered minds work.  It went on much longer than I thought it would, and they were both excited to participate.  The conversation took some unexpected twists and turns that touched on poetry,  communism, the body of Christ (physical and spiritual), the soul, individual uniqueness, and somehow...Harry Potter. 

At one point, Sarah said, "I wonder what I would have been like if I had been your first Sarah (our baby who died, also named Sarah).  I would be 11 instead of 10. I wonder if I would be taller or have blond hair."  I said, "You wouldn't have been you.  You are the only person with your exact qualities who has ever lived in all of history and who will ever live.  You are God's unique creation."  It reminded me that I used to wonder what I would have been like if my mom had married her previous boyfriend instead of my dad, and she always told me, "You wouldn't have been you," and I could never quite grasp it. 

When I finally wrapped it up, Sarah said, "That was fun!  Can we do another one?"  I wanted to leave them hungry, so I said that was all for today.  (Plus, I didn't have a plan for the next class, since I wanted to see how today's would go. Clearly, I need to do some more research and get some more books.)

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