B1 Intermediate 6248 Folder Collection
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(Applause)
Hello. When I tell people that I'm a philosopher in casual conversation,
I typically get a look.
A look that I think is a bit of a mixture between awe and fear.
As in, "Wow! really cool stuff, deep questions," and also,
"Oh my God, please don't make me defend everything I think I know!"
So philosophy is really something that –
When I say I teach philosophy to kids as well as adults,
those same people look at me like I might be crazy.
Philosophy is understood to be a deep, abstract, rigorous,
difficult kind of discipline.
People don't think children are capable of doing it.
When they look at me like I'm crazy, I think, "You're wrong.
Kids are actually very natural philosophers.
They ask these kinds of questions on their own."
And it's our job to help give them uptake on those questions.
So what are philosophical questions?
Philosophers are wondering all the time from the Ancient Greeks through today,
all about the nature of the universe and our place in it.
Philosophers want to know, for instance, if we are really free.
And what it would mean for us to say that we're free?
And could we both be determined and free?
Most people think that's absolutely insane, impossible.
But a lot of philosophers believe that's the only way we can be free:
if we are both determined and free.
Or, we'll ask questions about the nature of right and wrong.
We don't just want to know the answers: "What's right?" and "What's wrong?",
"What should I do?", "What should I not do?",
but the reasons behind that, and whether we are really
justified in thinking that certain things are right and wrong.
or "If the Sun's going to burn out in five billion years,
does anything really matter?"
How would we know if it does?
How do we make meaning in our lives knowing that we're all going to die?
These are the kinds of philosophical questions.
Even, "Can you know right now that you're not dreaming?"
We'll get you to worry about that question. (Laughter)
You won't be sure right after an introduction to philosophy.
So these are the kinds of questions that philosophers ask
like I said, I think kids ask them very naturally.
Adults have a much harder time asking them.
In part, I think, because philosophers
examine the most fundamental assumptions that we have
about our place in the universe and who we are.
And it's hard to give those up,
when we've put them in our background as adults.
Just like Jim Copacino said earlier,
"Adults have to unlearn those assumptions."
Learn to sort of be aware of what they are and then examine them really carefully,
whereas children are fresh to the world.
They are wondering about where they are
and how the world works and what their place is in it.
They haven't yet made those assumptions and so they're very eager and open
to thinking philosophically about ideas.
So children raise these philosophical questions.
When I've gone into classes, and I've worked with third grade
up through twelfth grade in high school.
A particular course I went to, fifth grade.
I did a little intro on what philosophy is,
because most people unfortunately have never heard of it
until they get to collage if they stumbled upon a class.
And I asked the fifth graders, after saying something about what a philosophy question is,
"Just take a minute and reflect, and write down philosophical questions that you ask yourself,
that you've raised for yourself,
late at night when things are calm and quiet,
or on a car trip when your damn DVD player breaks down, right,
and you have to actually think for a little bit,
what are the questions that you ask yourself?"
And it's amazing what they come up with.
So this particular fifth grade class, some of the questions they asked were:
What are numbers? Where do they come from?
And how is it possible that they go on forever?
Or they ask, "Why do people hate each other?
And why do we start wars?"
And others ones of them ask, in a public school,
"If there is a God, who created God?" (Laughter)
Right? These are great philosophical questions.
Questions that deserve a little uptake from the adult world, right?
We need to engage kids on the questions that they have.
They're trying to understand their world. And make meaning in it.
And I think, unfortunately, that in our current system,
those questions aren't getting uptake.
So they don't really get uptake in the educational system,
in part because teachers aren't really trained to deal with those kinds of questions.
The answers are ambiguous: there are better and worse answers,
but there's not one clear, right one.
You can't teach that for the test very easily.
We're increasingly getting funneled in that direction in education.
But even at home, I think, often they don't get uptake.
Because parents, many of us, haven't fully thought these questions through
and informed our own answers, or figured out whether or not
we're justified in what we tend to think might be right about those questions.
We're a little embarrassed by that when our kids call us on it.
And so we fumble, right, and maybe we put it off a little bit
and we don't actually address them.
And the result is that kids think these are questions that don't matter.
But they do matter. Right?
They matter for our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.
so in a word that i'm doing, we're trying to get philosophy into schools
as a way to excite kids about their learning
and to give meaning to these questions that they are already raising.
So, how do we do that?
We don't take Kant, and Descartes, Hegel and Heidegger and say, "Read this."
Now let's do some reading comprehension, and see what you think.
No, of course, they would hate philosophy, rightfully so, probably, at that age.
Instead we go in with the classic techniques from the history of philosophy.
So what are philosophers known for? Thought experiments.
And the beautiful thing about thought experiments is they don't take any lab space.
We don't need beakers or chemicals, there's no safety training.
It's this.
(Laughter)
You have to think really carefully about some hypothetical.
So, a famous one from Ancient Greek philosophy is The Ring of Gyges.
Imagine that you find a ring, and if you twist that ring,
it makes you invisible.
What would you do with that ring?
We give them a little time to explore that.
Why would you do that with that ring?
And you can imagine the things that they are saying.
Why and then once we figure out why they would do...
Why do you not do those things when you don't have the ring?
What stops you?
So a lot of them want to do things that are strictly speaking wrong, immoral.
Or at least funny and inappropriate.
(Laughter)
You know, they want to spy on people. that kind of things
So why do you not do that?
What makes those kinds of things wrong?
And initially some kids will think what makes it wrong
" what makes it wrong is that we get punished for it."
But then we can help them, through the process of discussion,
to come to see that we punish those things because they are wrong.
They are not wrong because they are punished.
We have to get the arrow going in the right direction,
and we can build these really interesting, deep conversations with kids,
based on maybe thought experiments that we start with,
but they are really coming from the kids' own questions that they're raising.
Or we'll use philosophical puzzles.
The ship of Theseus is another famous example from Ancient Philosophy.
Imagine you have a boat.
Over the course of time, maybe five years,
you actually replace every single board or every single part of the boat.
At the end of that process, do you still have the same boat?
Well, some people's intuition says, "Yeah, it's the same boat."
If you think it is the same boat – Why?
What remains the same through that process of change over time?
Right? And if you think it's not the same boat,
well, now, tell me, when did it not become the same boat?
At what point in this process of change would you have said,
"Ah, no, you have a new boat." Right?
And then starting with the boat,
we can translate that into a discussion about personal identity, human identity.
We're creatures who change over time. Right?
Are we really the same as our earlier selves?
Will we be the same as our future selves?
And what allows us to make that kind of claim?
Either remains the same,
or how do you retain an identity over all of this change?
And the kids love doing this kind of work.
They are really interested and invested in these questions.
We'll also use just great children's literature.
The best children's literature has deep philosophical questions in it.
So we'll use even simple things
like Arnold Lobel's "Frog and Toad Adventures."
If you're a parent, you'll know those well.
We'll talk about bravery.
Frog and Toad run away from a lot of things,
all the time saying, "We're very brave."
"Look at us run away from the snake, but we're being very brave."
So we have an interesting discussion with the kids.
What is bravery? What is the nature of that thing?
And can it be in tandem with really being afraid?
Is it standing up in the face of your own fear and doing something?
So we develop these really interesting discussions
out of literature, out of puzzles, out of thought experiments,
and we have various philosophical games that we use.
What we are aiming at is really threefold.
We want to enhance their cognitive skills. Critical thinking, right?
They are going to learn to build an argument,
They are gonna learn to evaluate an argument using logic,
They are gonna learn to respond to objections to their position.
Those are good skills that are going to do well for them
in other kinds of endeavors as well.
We want them to think creatively.
Come up with a counterexample!
Your friend just made this claim,
can you imagine a counterexample, or a different alternative?
Say what it is and show how it meets that person's claim.
We'll also talk about behavioral skills.
How can you converse with your peers?
Listen to them carefully, take them seriously,
and disagree with them without fighting
or feeling hurt by the disagreement.
One of the greatest things is you'll get best friends saying,
"I never realized I could really disagree with him about something
that we both think matters, but it's OK, we've figure that out."
And then finally, in addition to the cognitive skills
and the behavioral ones, philosophical awareness skills.
Knowing what a philosophical question is, and knowing that they can answer them.
They can work through the difficult questions,
and try to figure something out for themselves.
I think this is really empowering for them.
And what we've found, not only in our own work,
where kids really enjoy it, and love it,
but in work done around the world,
with little pockets of philosophy for children,
is that they do better on some of the standardized tests
that we have for critical thinking, for language and literacy,
for other sorts of things that we are already broadly valuing.
And perhaps even more importantly, the students really love it.
They are excited by it, it reinvigorates their love of learning,
they realise now that these questions matter
and that it can be beneficial for them in answering them with their peers.
And I think that's what education is all about.
That's why we need to do philosophy.
Thanks.
(Applause)
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【TEDx】TEDxOverlake - Dr. Sara Goering - Philosophy for Kids: Sparking a Love of Learning

6248 Folder Collection
阿多賓 published on March 15, 2014    YSI translated    Kristi Yang reviewed
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