The Philosophy Club has been featured in The Age: ‘Philosophy the answer for curious kids?’ by Amy Gray:
“Set up by Michelle Sowey, the Philosophy Club consists of…sessions exploring the history of thought using guided discussions, stories, craft and physical activity. Parents can track the discussions via the group’s Facebook page for unattributed quotes (in which parents can inadvertantly learn if their child is an animist or empiricist) or learn more about philosophy themselves.
In a group setting, the children emerge from their shells to bond and chatter, throwing ideas and imaginative scenarios at one another. There’s an element of exhilaration, a chance for unrestricted thoughts and exploration in an environment safe from judgment.
For kids with a never-ending stream of confounding questions, philosophy might take them on an amazing path.”
Read the whole article here.
We’ve also been featured in Babyology: ‘Tackle the Big Questions with The Philosophy Club’ by Katrina Whelen:
“I was thrilled to discover The Philosophy Club, a social enterprise that runs extra-curricular workshops for curious kids.
The club runs small group workshops where children have the opportunity to explore some of life’s big questions, with the aid of intriguing stories, pictures, games and crafts to fuel the discussion. Now that might sound a little heavy, but when you look at some of the questions that were raised in recent workshops – can germs think? Why do people prefer cake to celery? Is ‘goodness’ visible? Is it okay to lie to someone you don’t know very well? – you can see that topics are explored in a context children can relate to and are enthusiastic about.
There are many benefits for children in participating in this kind of thinking. Apart from stretching their imaginations, tackling complex questions about meaning and values assists them in their everyday lives when making decisions between right and wrong, fair and unfair – valuable skills in a world crowded with advertising, rhetoric and ‘noise’.”
Read the whole article here.
Michelle Sowey of The Philosophy Club authored an opinion piece in The Guardian: ‘Teaching Philosophy to Children’, published on World Philosophy Day 2013:
“…kids, too, have the capacity to enquire philosophically from an early age. They’re nimble in playing with ideas and deft in building on each other’s arguments. They’re endlessly inquisitive, wondering about values (“What’s the most treasured object in the world?”), metaphysics (“Is the earth a coincidence?”), language (“If cavemen just went ‘ugh-ugh-ugh’, how did we learn to speak?”) and epistemology (“Since you can have dreams inside dreams, how can you know when you’re dreaming?”).
In small groups, they’ve discussed artificial intelligence, environmental ethics, interspecies communication and authenticity in art. They’ve contemplated the existence of free will, the limits of knowledge, the possibility of justice and countless other problems from the history of philosophical thought. By continually questioning, challenging and evaluating ideas, the children have been able to see for themselves why some arguments fail while others bear up under scrutiny.
Studying philosophy cultivates doubt without helplessness, and confidence without hubris. I’ve watched kids evolve to be more rational, sceptical and open-minded, and I’ve seen them interact in more fair-minded and collaborative ways. As one 10-year-old said, “I’ve started to actually solve arguments and problems with philosophy. And it works better than violence or anything else.”
By setting children on a path of philosophical enquiry early in life, we could offer them irreplaceable gifts: an awareness of life’s moral, aesthetic and political dimensions; the capacity to articulate thoughts clearly and evaluate them honestly; and the confidence to exercise independent judgement and self-correction. What’s more, an early introduction to philosophical dialogue would foster a greater respect for diversity and a deeper empathy for the experiences of others, as well as a crucial understanding of how to use reason to resolve disagreements.”
Read the whole article here.
David Urbinder of The Philosophy Club was interviewed for Wes Hosking’s article about our Big Questions program: ‘Thinking Becomes Class Act’, published in the Herald-Sun on 17/09/2014:
“Primary school students as young as nine are being taught philosophy in a bid to boost literacy and thinking skills. More than 40 pupils at Springvale’s Heatherhill Primary School will this Friday graduate from the two-month program, touted as the only in Australia that deploys “highly trained philosophical thinkers” into classrooms.
Youngsters ponder questions like “Am I free to make my own choices?”, “Could a machine think?”, “How do we decide whether something is beautiful?” and “Why should we be good?”.
The Philosophy Club co-founder David Urbinder, whose organisation has trained 10 University of Melbourne third-year and honours philosophy students as mentors, said the program aimed to inspire a sense of wonder and exploration.
Sessions cater for grades 4-6 and run for two hours each week with real philosophical problems posed to trigger discussion and debate.
“There are cognitive benefits, there are social benefits and there are literacy benefits,’’ Mr Urbinder said. “And the other side of it is that it’s really developing critical and creative thinking skills. Philosophy is the home of critical thinking. There is really a secret fourth R that should be in the curriculum and that is reasoning. Without a sound basis for thinking through problems life can be difficult.”
Heatherhill principal Mary Verwey said students had improved both their verbal and oral literacy skills. They were also more reflective and articulate. “We have noticed a big change,” she said.”