Philosophy deals with the most fundamental concepts about our existence and what it means to be human in this world. It considers ideas such as: knowledge, truth, meaning, justice, beauty, freedom and consciousness. Our understanding about these ideas influence many aspects of our lives. One of the best ways to involve children in philosophical discussion is to use good children's literature as a vehicle for philosophical discussions in the classroom.
I have included an excerpt from my book, 'Developing Literacy in the Primary Classroom' to show how philosophy, children's literacy and the COR literacy framework can be blended to develop deeper thinking and enquiry learning in the classroom.
"Literature circles and philosophical discussions will position the reader/viewer as a critical analyst who will look for and interpret meanings not just at the surface level but at deeper levels of cognition and metacognition.
Perceptual level: Observing and clarifying: Inferring and clarifying what has been suggested, making a distinction, asking an appropriate question, making an assumption, generalizing, and asking for a reason.
• What is the author saying?
• Do you think these points are the most important...?
• What reasons do you think the author has for saying that?
• Is the author saying that...?
• Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't she/she saying ...?
• What do think the author means by...?
• Aren't you thinking that...?
• Could you give me an example from your own experience of...?
Conceptual level: Forming an opinion, clarifying and justifying: Giving a reason, inferring, giving counter examples, and using criteria.
• In light of what the story was about, do you think that...?
• Why do you believe that what you said is correct?
• Can you tell us why you think that?
• Does anyone else have any questions for …?
• Do you agree with his/her reasons?
• Is that evidence good enough?
• What evidence are you using to make that statement?
• Is it possible that you and the other person are contradicting each other?
• Can you try to see the issue from someone else’s point of view?
Metacognitive level: Evaluating individual and group responses: This involves personal reflection and evaluation, and also evaluating the responsiveness of the group.
• Did we listen to each other well?
• Did we respect each others’ opinions and ideas?
• What have we learned from this discussion?
• Did we use good reasons for what we have said?
• What has it changed? (Self-correction, concepts, experience, attitude).
• How did you feel about the discussion?
• Is what you said now consistent with what you said before?" (Woolley, 2014, p102)
Woolley, G. (2014). Developing literacy in the primary classroom. London: Sage.