In Praise of Weird, Unexpected Moments of Learning


If you’re like most parents, you’ve now had a few weeks of remote learning. Maybe you’re gaining insights into your child’s academic career, or how they function as a student. Maybe you’re having fun finding science experiments, art projects, and creative writing exercises to try. Maybe you’ve had a ton of quality time with your family.

Or maybe you’re exhausted, trying to juggle your own work and that of your child, and you’re really worried that they just aren’t learning anything. Maybe you’re just fed up with self-isolation, and homeschooling, and worrying about what comes next.

Wherever you’re at, it’s all good. We want to assure you that your kids are learning, and that you’re doing a great job. It really is true that youngsters have brains like sponges, and anything and everything they encounter presents them with a new opportunity to think. It’s also true that kids are natural philosophers, and whether or not they’re in a classroom, the questions will still keep rolling in, and they’ll still keep finding new and amazing answers to them.

Here are some comforting things to keep in mind, from a philosophy-for-kids perspective:

  • More than ever, it’s totally cool to admit you don’t know. There are some pretty huge questions at play right now, and a fair bit of uncertainty worldwide. Your kids won’t think less of you if you tell them you’re still figuring things out. They’ll think better of you because you’re willing to think through things together.
  • Philosophy doesn’t generally follow a schedule, and your conversations about big questions don’t need to either. Critical thinking isn’t a finite exercise, it’s an ongoing process. If your discussions last only five minutes, that’s fine. If the same one pops up several times in the span of a week, that’s wonderful. If a random situation sparks an idea or a question, then you’ve hit pay dirt! Go with the flow.
  • Virtually anything can spark a philosophical question. It could come from a movie you finally have time to watch, the batch of cookies you baked together, or something you see while taking a walk around the block. Even a trying situation like our current one can lead to some important and insightful conversations.
  • Your child is a fountain of big ideas and big questions. You may find them surprisingly insightful and eager to contribute, even with respect to grown-up ideas. Take them seriously, give them space to speak their minds, and ask them to explain themselves. Doing philosophy together builds trust, competency, and confidence.

Being isolated together is, no doubt, going to drive everyone a little bonkers. All of our regular schedules and habits have been disrupted. Our social, academic, and profession lives have been reconfigured. However, we are being given a rare opportunity to really get to know one another as thinkers, and thankfully, it doesn’t take a lot of time or planning to make room for the type of great discussion that fosters critical thinking, creativity and so much more.

Parents, we’re proud of you. You got this. Please wander around our website and check out all the materials we have to help you (a bunch of them are even free), and reach out if we can help.