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Sample Courses

From Teaching Children Philosophy, a Project of Thomas Wartenberg
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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