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Philosopher Kids

If you enjoy working with children, then join Philosopher Kids! Philosopher Kids is a program aimed at engaging elementary school-aged children in philosophical conversations through literature, games, and art.

Founded by Dr. Jon Altschul, Philosopher Kids is inspired by Dr. Thomas E. Wartenberg’s book, Big Idea as for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Children's Literature. Once a week, our members visit the Good Shepherd Nativity School to work with their class of third-graders.

The core belief of the program is that there is no age requirement to begin to learn how to think critically and philosophically.  Doing philosophy is nothing more than having a series of conversations about those “big ideas,” such as courage, beauty, respect for others, knowledge, and justice.  Thinking and talking philosophically does not require one to have read what Aristotle or Descartes or Nietzsche say on these matters.  Rather, these very ideas are conveyed in stories like The Adventures of Frog and Toad, Emily’s Art, The Giving Tree, Morris the Moose, and The Wizard of Oz.  These childhood classics are entrenched with deep philosophical themes that are revealed through their plots and characters.  

Working with third graders, it does not take a whole lot of prodding and asking from PK members to get them talking – In fact, this is the very point of Philosopher Kids! We adopt a learner-centered education, in which the children teach themselves and each other.  Our job as instructors is merely to guide the discussion along so that the children formulate and express their own opinions while also offering reasons for why they think they are right.  The main objective of the program is to let the children learn how to play the game of giving and asking for reasons to back up whatever they or their peers say in a conversation. We believe that the key to a successful future life begins with knowing how to argue for what one wants or what one thinks is true.  Engaging in philosophical dialogue, more than anything else, cultivates and nurtures this very skill, which is why talking about those big ideas with these little kids is so important.

We are always looking for volunteers to help with PK. Any Loyola student is invited to participate, regardless of your major. The only requirement enjoy working with kids and are dedicated to making them smarter.

For more information about participating, please contact the Philosophy Department administrative assistant.

If you would like to support this program, consider donating to the Altschul fund: