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As If: Truth and Lies in Fiction

Here’s a Sudanese storyteller’s opener: ‘I’m going to tell a story It’s a lie. But not everything in it is false.’ From Norma J. Livo and Sandra Rietz Storytelling Process and Practice (1986) And here is an extract from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy’s entry on holes: ‘Naive...

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Themes: Truth & Falsity

Boys and Ghouls

Stimulus  One day, a brother and sister move with their family into a new house. They share a big bedroom right up in the attic at the top of the house. The room has a window that opens through the roof. Each night, when it’s time to go to bed the two children open the window and look out. They can see birds sitting high up in...

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Subjects: Epistemology

Themes: Identity


By Peter Worley.  Here’s a new session I’ve been running recently and having a great deal of success with. Especially if you include at least one of the extension activities, the children really enjoy this, so if you find yourself needing something a bit more fun towards the end of term/year, this should fit the bill. When do...

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Themes: Language


BACKGROUND There are many versions of this story throughout history and across the world. It may go back as far as the Greeks in one for or another. The first version we have is from the 13th Century poet scholar Ibn Said and is very common in the Islamic world. The story was picked up and circulated by Europeans over the centuries. All th...

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Subjects: Ethics

Is This A Poem?

Ever since Socrates, philosophers have tried to define terms clearly and exhaustively. This has resulted in a good deal of rigour and precision. Philosophers often speak of ‘necessary and sufficient conditions’, or, what I call ‘what’s needed and what’s enough’. The problem is: it’s not easy to do. For i...

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Subjects: English

Themes: Comprehension, Categories


STIMULUS Open with a sitting-down game/activity and then ask the pupils, “Is what you just did ‘sport’?”   QUESTIONS & AVENUES Does sport require competition? Does sport need to have winners and losers? Is all exercise sport? Is all sport exercise? Does sport need to be good for your h...

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Subjects: Logic, Language and Meaning

The 2 Square

  2                     2 2                     2 Start Question: Take a look at the 2s above. How many numbers do you think are there? Nested Questions: How many different answers can you think of? If someone said that...

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Subjects: Metaphysics, Maths

Themes: Perception , Numbers, Forms

The Happy Prisoner (adapted)

An adaptation of The Happy Prisoner (taken from The If Machine, p93) Adapted by Steve Hoggins Stimulus Sit one child in the center of the room and say: This person is in a room. A locked room and the key has been thrown away. Whatever happens in this story it is important to remember that this person cannot leave the room. How...

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Subjects: Metaphysics

Themes: Freedom

The Incredible Shrinking Machine

If the smallest thing is nothing then the biggest thing must be something. Adam (10-years-old)   1. The Chair Begin by placing a chair in the middle of the room. Now tell them to imagine that the chair is a futuristic machine that shrinks things and people to any size. Describe this as evocatively as you can. Next, inv...

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Subjects: Science , Metaphysics

Themes: Personal identity, Existence, Change

The Philosophical Adventures of Pencil Person

These sessions may well blend into each other as there is a good deal of overlap with the ideas. For instance, if the discussion in Meet Pencil Person turns towards the distinction between types and individual things then run Pencil Person Meets Pencil Person to help focus this. Introducing Pencil Person Props: four (or eight) pencils, a b...

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Subjects: Metaphysics

Themes: Parts and wholes, Mereology, Identity