Interested in trying your hand at teaching philosophy in your classroom, but unsure how to start? Well, here are some ideas that might be helpful to you. We've constructed three sample syllabi that you might want to try. One is a general introduction to philosophy, one focuses on ethics, and the third includes books that address issues about knowledge and reality.
So if you want to see what teaching philosophy is like, feel free to use these suggested curricula as well as the book modules for the suggested books. Of course, you are completely free to modify anything you want to. We teach each book in a single session, but you have more flexibility and might want to spend a few sessions on each one. You might also want to consider adding some "extension activities" for the books, such as those listed in Big Ideas for Little Kids.
Good luck and let us know how it works!
An Introduction to Philosophy Course
This course is designed to introduce elementary school students to philosophy in much the same way that college students are. That is, if offers a glimpse at all the major fields of philosophy. A very detailed description of how to implement and use this course can be found in Tom Wartenberg’s Big Ideas for Little Kids.
Week 1. Ethics: "Dragons and Giants" from Frog and Toad Together
Week 2. Social and Political Philosophy: Frederick
Week 3. Metaphysics The Important Book
Week 4. Philosophy of Mind: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Week 5. Environmental Ethics: The Giving Tree
Week 6. Epistemology: Morris the Moose
Week 7. Philosophy of Language: Knuffle Bunny
Week 8. Aesthetics: Emily's Art
A Course in Ethics
The field of Ethics is itself a diverse and interesting part of the study of philosophy and concerns a wide range of questions about human conduct, right and wrong. This sample course offers a survey of some interesting and important issues that have emerged in the area of Ethics.
Week 1. Courage:"Dragons and Giants" from Frog and Toad Together
Week 2. Will Power: "Cookies" from Frog and Toad Together
Week 3. Attitudes: Where the Wild Things Are
Week 4. Friendship: Owl at Home
Week 5. Happiness: Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters
Week 6. Rights: Hey, Little Ant
Week 7. Ethical Dilemma: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Week 8. The Environment: The Lorax
A Course in Metaphysics and Epistemology
The field of Metaphysics deals with questions concerning the nature of reality itself. Epistemology focuses on questions of knowledge. These two kinds of questions often arise together. Some examples are: What is the nature of the universe, and the things in it? How do we come to know or understand those things? Because these two subfields of philosophy fit so well together, a good way to introduce young students to them is by putting them together in a single mini-course.
Part 1: Metaphysics
Week 1. Personal Identity: Little Blue and Little Yellow
Week 2. Possibility and Necessity: Albert's Impossible Toothache
Week 3. Essentialism: The Important Book
Week 4. Philosophy of Religion: Yellow and Pink
Part 2: Epistemology
Week 5. Knowing: I Know the Moon
Week 6. Belief Justification: Morris the Moose
Week 7. Truth: Horton Hears a Who
Week 8. Skepticism: "The Dream" from Frog and Toad Together