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How much philosophy fits in preschool education?

21 January 2019

The movement of Philosophy for children starts with M .Lipman in the USA in the early ‘70s and then after several experimentations, it was spread throughout Europe. Lipman, by introducing “Community of Enquiry”, responds to Piaget’s claim that children cannot be taught philosophy before the age of 12.

By teaching philosophy in preschool we do not mean that ancient philosophers and their lectures are being taught. What we mean is that a different way of organizing our thought is presented. If we should define philosophy in early childhood education we would say that it is an activity with characteristics of a critical, inquiring and interlocutory process. Philosophy for children is something like a discussion in early childhood education.

This specific theory claims that conceptual thinking which characterizes the children of this age and the internal dialogue they develop are the characteristics that make them capable of a process like that.
I try to have a philosophy activity in every theme we have. Our last theme was about games and the philosophy activity had to do with, whether “my doll is real , actual or  fictional”. Through open questions we tried to find a possible definition using our experience. Then the kids had to respond to questions like “if I can see my doll, does it mean that it’s real?” ,”if I can make up a story for my doll, does it make it factual?”. When I asked : “if I can talk with my doll, does it make it real?”a child responded, “my doll is not factual, but when I talk to it, it can listen to me, so it means that it’s real”. In this way we teach philosophy with children, for children.

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