Peter Worley | Why use stories for doing philosophy with children?

First of all stories engage. When a teller tells a story well the audiencevisualize the story so that it seems to happen before them. If you want children to think, first of all they must be engaged.

Secondly, stories enable children to grasp complex ideas very naturally, where in the abstract, they would be lost. Tell the story of ‘Scylla and Charybdis’ from The Odyssey and children can follow the complexities of ethical dilemmas that would be nigh on impossible for them in the abstract. 

Thirdly, stories can be used to activate the children as moral agents. You can stop the story at the crisis point, the difficult decision or the conflict, and instead of simply reading on, you could ask the class questions: ‘What do you think [the character]should do?’, ‘What do you think [the character] will do?’, ‘What would you do?’ and ‘What do…

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Posted by on 2nd February 2016 at 12:00am


Hi Mr. Worley, I teach 8th grade gifted students and am excited to have discovered The If Machine. We will be engaging in philosophy lessons each week starting Monday. I'm wondering if you have a recommended first lesson? I notice the recommendation of teaching The Ceebie Stories in succession, but other than that I am wondering about a scope and sequence for building the most powerful yearlong philosophy curriculum. Thank you for any guidance. Sincerely, Jenny Green

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