Does Your Child (age 4-8) have a Philosophical Question? Ask Scott Hershovitz, a professor at the University of Michigan. 

Submit your kid’s philosophy question through the link below:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/apr/11/does-your-child-have-a-question-to-ask-a-philosopher?CMP=share_btn_tw

Scott’s new upcoming book is

An extract from Nasty Brutish and Short: Adventures in Philosophy with Kids, by Scott Hershovitz

I was a philosopher almost from the time that I could talk, and I am not alone in that. Every kid—every single one—is a philosopher. They stop when they grow up. Indeed, it may be that part of what it is to grow up is to stop doing philosophy and to start doing something more practical. If that’s true, then I’m not fully grown up, which will come as a surprise to exactly no one who knows me.

I remember the first time I pondered a philosophical puzzle. I was five, and it hit me during circle time at the kindergarten. I thought about it all day, and at pickup time I rushed to tell my mother, who taught a preschool class down the hall. “Mommy,” I said, “I don’t know what red looks like to you.”

“Yes, you do. It looks red,” she said.

“Right . . . well, no,” I stammered. “I know what red looks like to me, but I don’t know what it looks like to you.”

“Red looks like that,” she said, pointing to something red.

“Right,” I said, “but I don’t know what that looks like to you. I know what it looks like to me.”

“It looks the same, sweetheart.”

“We call the same things red,” I attempted to explain, “because you pointed to red things and told me they were red. But what if I see red the way you see blue?”

“You don’t. That’s red, not blue, right?”

“I know we both call that red,” I said, “but red could look to you the way blue looks to me.” (Philosophers call the puzzle I pressed on my mother the shifted color spectrum. The idea is typically credited to John Locke.)

I don’t know how long we went round on that, but my mother never did see the point I was making. (Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m happy to try again.) And I distinctly remember her concluding the conversation: “Stop worrying about this. It doesn’t matter. You see just fine.” That was the first time someone told me to stop doing philosophy. It was not the last.

Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) Parent Alert (Plus Ed’s Guitar Solo)

This important short piece explains how certain questionable religious groups try to convert vulnerable children in a sneaky way. From the article:

Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) is at it again, this time providing Ukrainian children with something they already have an abundance of—fear.

It’s no revelation that CEF, who runs the predatory Good News Clubs in schools and churches across the US and abroad, takes advantage of every opportunity to proselytize to children and convert them to fundamentalist Christianity through fear and candy bribes. I’ve observed it myself—the organization teaches kids that every word in the Bible is true and that they’ll be separated from their parents and families for eternity if they don’t accept Jesus Christ through CEF’s brand of fundamentalism. They teach little kids they’re inherently flawed through original sin, and the only cure is Jesus. It’s disgusting and psychologically abusive. And now they’re targeting Ukrainian children under the guise of refugee relief. see the short article here: https://onlysky.media/kdavis/child-evangelism-fellowship-caring-for-ukrainian-children-with-threats-of-hell/

Does this get under your skin? Then why not listen to this excellent guitar solo with your kids by our Vice President Ed, and then have a long talk with your kids: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRi_E434BfM

How is Secular Web Kids different from parents immersing their children in the bible?

Our interest is in fostering critical and creative thinkers. We feel that the probable result of this will be secular kids. Still, if the end of that path is theism for some, then it is a theism that doesn’t hide from reason. A real unfairness “of religion-izing” young kids is that it’s especially hard, when they come to the Age of Reason, to “reason out of something” they didn’t “reason into” in the first place.

Christian apologist Randal Rauser recently shared on his blog that in 1997, secularist Nicholas Humphrey delivered the Oxford Amnesty Lecture which he titled “What shall we tell the children?” (Published in Social Research, 65 (1998), 777-805.) In the lecture, Humphrey warns against allowing parents to teach their children religious ideology:

“I am talking about moral and religious education. And especially the education a child receives at home, where parents are allowed – even expected – to determine for their children what counts as truth and falsehood, right and wrong. Children, I’ll argue, have a human right not to have their minds crippled by exposure to other people’s bad ideas – no matter who these other people are. Parents, correspondingly, have no god-given licence to enculturate their children in whatever ways they personally choose: no right to limit the horizons of their children’s knowledge, to bring them up in an atmosphere of dogma and superstition, or to insist they follow the straight and narrow paths of their own faith. In short, children have a right not to have their minds addled by nonsense. And we as a society have a duty to protect them from it. So we should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe, for example, in the literal truth of the Bible, or that the planets rule their lives, than we should allow parents to knock their children’s teeth out or lock them in a dungeon.” (here: https://randalrauser.com/2022/02/the-danger-of-the-secular-ideologue/ )

I feel children should be taught at school a wide variety of religious belief systems, and also secularism, because what matters is that truth should win out fair and square.

Linus Quotes — — paraphrasing Patricia C. Hodgell, Seeker's...
The writer of the above Charlie Brown comic was devoutly religious, by the way: Charles Schulz

REFLECTION QUESTION:

Think about what has been presented above in this post and consider whether perhaps BRAINWASHING is a hidden issue here? As a follow up question, historically, why has shaping young minds to be copies of themselves been so important to some adults (eg fanatic cults, the Hitler Youth, etc)?

Article on The Question Of Teaching Respectful Citizenship In Schools (In The Face Of Objections, Such As Religious Ones)

This article examines the question of schools teaching students to be respectful citizens with a view to universal human rights.

From the article: “Teaching tolerance in schools cannot avoid controversy”

“The children’s picture book And Tango Makes Three (2005) tells the true story of two male penguins who raise a chick together at a New York zoo. Initially pulped in Singapore and then removed to the adult section of the country’s libraries, and the cause of protests in seven US states, this book by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell has been controversial. State schools in Birmingham, England, read the book with four- to six-year-olds as part of their ‘No Outsiders’ programme, leading to lengthy protests during 2019. The (predominantly, but not exclusively, Muslim) protestors bore slogans such as ‘My Child, My Right’ and ‘Say No to Undermining Parental Rights and Authority’. In the words of one Birmingham parent, Fatima Shah, who first raised the issue with her daughter’s school: ‘We don’t send our children to school to learn about LGBT. We send them to school to learn maths, science and English.’

Teaching programmes such as ‘No Outsiders’ are often justified as part of a wider drive to teach children the value of tolerance. In pluralist societies such as the United Kingdom – where there exist many different opinions on what is right and true – how should ‘tolerance’ as an aim of education be understood, and what does it imply in practice for what goes on in the classroom?”

See the full article here: https://psyche.co/ideas/teaching-tolerance-in-schools-cannot-avoid-controversy?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1643067443-4

Parents/Guardians Resources

Dear Parents/Guardians,

For parents, one great resource for this is Emeritus Philosophy professor Dr. Tom Wartenberg who posted 2 excellent Youtube videos about he and his university level Philosophy students teaching K-6 elementary students philosophy:

Dr. Wartenberg has a great book for parents/guardians/teachers teaching kids Philosophy/Critical Thinking: Big Ideas For Little Kids: https://www.amazon.com/Big-Ideas-Little-Kids-Philosophy/dp/1475804458/ref=sr_1_15?dchild=1&keywords=philosophy+for+kids&qid=1626797106&sr=8-15

Another book I have used in the past as a teaching tool is Philosophy For Kids by David White: https://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-Kids-Questions-Wonder-Everything/dp/1882664701/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=philosophy+for+kids&qid=1626797106&sr=8-4

These are great resources for educators, but also for parents who want to engage their children in critical and creative thinking discussions.

I think the question of secular kids implies the question of facilitating kids to be creative and critical thinkers, so this might be a fruitful avenue foy you to pursue! Two sites I wanted to mention on the Philosophy for Kids topic are:

1) Teaching Children Philosophy is a resource for parents and educators that grew up around Dr. Wartenberg’s program that I mentioned above over the last decade.  It’s wonderful:  

2) Philosophy For Children from the University of Washington.  This is a great resource page on their site: https://www.philosophyforchildren.org/resources/lesson-plans/