WINTER PARK, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Pre-school children are learning how to talk about ethics and discuss hard-hitting questions at the Rollins College’s lab-based pre-school center, the Hume House Child Development Center.
“Children are very philosophical,” said Diane Doyle, Hume House CDC director. “You know they have big questions. They don’t understand certain things and they ask questions because they’re not limited in their idea that they can’t.”
Doyle said they want to continue fostering a thoughtful approach and teach young children to listen, think then respond. A new philosophy curriculum was published this year on how to teach those big ideas to young thinkers.
Doyle co-authored the book with Professor of Psychology Sharon Carnahan and Dr. Erik Kenyon, who teaches Philosophy at Rollins and is Director of Engagement at the college’s Holt School.
“It’s usually a game and then a story and an art project or some sort of variation of that to get them thinking about the concepts,” Doyle said.
For example, she said students experience bravery by taking turns being blindfolded and allowing their classmates to help them navigate the classroom and find a hidden toy.
Doyle said students then discuss what it means to be brave by reading a story about bravery and drawing a picture of a time when they were brave.
“When they talk to each other they have reasons that are very relative to them and relevant because they have previous experiences in similar ways perhaps and that gets them thinking really deep.”
Rollins College students created the lesson plans which explore themes like self-care and moderation. Rollins College senior Rachel Wasserman said they started working on the project in 2015.
“It’s very important that they’re learning how to articulate what they’re really trying to say,” Wasserman said. “Just [to] see them say, “How do I do this, what about this, or I agree because or I disagree because,” those are skills I didn’t learn until I went to college.”
“There really is a need particularly right now for people who can have useful dialogue. It seems like everything is so polarized,” said Dr. Kenyon, who co-authored the book. “School systems are just over-run with standardized tests… our students are showing up to college really good at answering questions and really not so good at asking them.”
Dr. Kenyon said he hopes parents and teachers will use the curriculum to spark deep conversations about abstract concepts with their children.
He said the ultimate goal is to get school districts to use the curriculum so his team can track students’ progress over the years and use the data as a way to encourage more people to adopt the approach.