Philosophy has no value at all for young children: true or false?

Essay by scasmA, November 2014

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Philosophy has no value at all for young children: true or false?

Philosophy is often thought of in relation to big life altering questions such as "what is life?", and "who am I?" Philosophical questions rarely have a simple or a right answer - more often than not, they are thought provoking questions which produce a variety of answers and opinions - often leading to further questions and discussions. Philosophy need not be that complex - it is more about questioning, inquiring and being critical (Wilson, 1992).

To discuss the value of Philosophy for Children (P4C), we must first establish what value is. Value can be explored in three possible avenues. Firstly - as an instrument efficiently achieving other pre-existing pedagogical aims such as personal moral standards, and self-control. Secondly, as a means to introducing valuable habitual life actions which strengthen individual character and enrich live experiences, and thirdly as a process of inquiry and questioning which enriches individuals both generally and educationally.

Values can be considered as landmarks without which children cannot grow (Brenifer 2003).

Children are not adults - their minds are not as cognitively developed, they are socially and emotionally immature, and they cannot engage in higher-order thinking. Because of their immaturity (cognitively and verbally), they cannot properly verbalise their thoughts which potentially leads to adults evaluating children's thoughts based on their own personal interpretation.

The question of whether young children (aged five or six upwards) are capable of critical philosophical thinking cannot be asked in terms of philosophical questioning tailored traditionally to older people, but rather in terms the nature of philosophy tailored for young children. Aside from physical age and life experiences, philosophically it is very difficult to say exactly what the different is between adults and children (Murris, 2000).

Children have a natural...