Many modern philosophers talk about how modern life is full of ambiguity and uncertainty, and how it’s such a big part of the human condition. Well, we’re all feeling the weight of both of these things right now, aren’t we? With luck, we’re still safe and healthy, with full schedules and lots of things to do to pass the time. But there are an awful lot of question marks floating in the air at the moment.
When will we be able to get out and about again?
What will our relationships with other people look like if we can’t go near them?
How will school and work be different as we re-enter the outside world?
We wish we had answers to these questions, but we don’t. What we do have in philosophy is a way of seeing the world that makes room for questions, especially unanswered ones. Philosophers are trained to sit a little more comfortably in grey areas. We’re not necessarily happy to be in the dark, but we have learned to deal with it, to keep talking and exploring ideas.
It really can make a person feel better. There’s great comfort in it, and that’s one of the reasons why we work so hard to bring children into philosophical conversation. They deserve that sort of comfort. They deserve to feel like, even in times of great uncertainty, there are still discussions to be had, ways to explore, and above all, connections to be made with other humans. All is not lost when we don’t know the answers. In fact, sometimes that’s when great things begin.
We’d like to remind parents, caregivers and teachers: you deserve this feeling too, this comfort, this connection. You deserve to be able to admit you don’t know. You deserve to have time and space to ask big questions, and to bond with others through dialogue. You deserve to the security of knowing that, like the many, many humans before you who have lived through trying circumstances, that there are ways to think your way through things, to come out on the other side with even bigger and better ideas.
So please, keep doing philosophy with your kids. Keep acknowledging their big questions, and talking through them as a family or as a class. We’ve got all kinds of resources on this website (many of them free) to help you do so. But don’t just do it because it’s good for your little thinkers, because it will help them learn remotely, digest what they see in the media a little more easily, or sleep a little more soundly at night.
Please do it for yourself too.