Are they the aliens, or are we?


Most kids find The Philosophy Club unusual, because it’s rare for them to find other opportunities – either in school or home – to think and talk about deep questions in an open and collaborative atmosphere. Although some families and teachers go out of their way to cultivate these opportunities, it’s generally uncommon for children to be invited to explore new perspectives, to challenge each other’s opinions in a reasoned way, or to spend time actively constructing their worldviews.

I established The Philosophy Club because I wanted to create a supportive environment and a rich array of learning materials that would enable kids to do all of these things, while developing their thinking and interpersonal skills along the way.

I was delighted when Amy Leask – a Canadian educator, curriculum developer, Philosophy for Children advocate and entrepreneur – interviewed me for a guest post which appears on her blogs. In the post The Philosophy Club: Where young minds explore deep questions, I talk about why I began running philosophy workshops for children, what it’s like working with kids of different ages, and what I see as the long-term academic and personal benefits of early encounters with philosophy. I also talk about the kind of questions that kids ask from left field, like “If we found life on another planet, we’d have to ask: ‘Are they the aliens, or are we?'”

Special thanks to Amy Leask for the chance to share my thoughts at Enable Education and at Kids Think About It, where she and her guests blog about about teaching, learning, critical thinking and big ideas.


Illustration by Frédérique Bertrand

The Philosophy Club runs co-curricular and extra-curricular workshops for children in Australia.



4 responses to “Are they the aliens, or are we?

    • Hi Gwendolyn,

      Thanks for your encouraging response. In my experience, few college-level philosophy teachers are enthusiastic about the idea of practising philosophy with children. Many academics regard children’s thinking as insufficiently philosophical to be worthy of the name. Of course, I’d beg to differ – and your words of support are a breath of fresh air!

      By the way, I’ve enjoyed visiting your blog and I particularly appreciated your remark that “finding something interesting, like recognizing beauty, takes time and thought. One isn’t always ‘struck or in ‘awe.’ Often, interest is the result of devoting energy to appreciation.” An excellent point.

    • It is not possible to say whether there are aliens out there or that we are alone. We haven`t made any real undeniable contact with aliens and because the universe is so vast that we haven`t and couldn`t have checked everywhere for life. Some people say that Crop Circles are messages from aliens but why fly all this way, leave an obscure message and then fly away again. People report that they`ve been taken by aliens but they are dismissed as unreliable and attention seekers. Until we get an alien mothership hovering over a major city, UFO abductees will continue to be dismissed. The only way I can plausible see us being the only lifeforms in the Universe is if we are at the centre of the Universe and that chemicals exist on our planet that don`t exist anywhere else which is highly unlikely. The most important chemicals for life on Earth are Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen and Nitrogen. All three of those chemicals have been spotted on in space. Oxygen has been spotted in a star forming region of Orion constellation, you can read more about his on the BBC News website.

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