Yes, even philosophers have a special day, and this is it! Today, we celebrate the asking of big questions, the curiosity behind them, and the patient and creative stream of thought with which we work through them. Around these parts, we also celebrate the little thinkers who seem to effortlessly embrace philosophy, and the big thinkers who encourage them.
For anyone who’s ever wanted to do philosophy with their child (or anyone who’s already done it), here’s a challenge:
- Find the biggest writing surface around. It could be a piece of poster paper, or a whiteboard, or a blackboard.
- Declare the surface as a space to ask big questions. Give your child a specific time frame, or let them come and go throughout the day. Invite them to write down as many big questions as they can think of. Tell them to really dig, and capture the questions they’ve been meaning to ask for a long time. If they have trouble finding the right words, or they’re not a fan of writing at all, help them out.
- Do the same for yourself. Try to remember what you wanted to discuss when you were their age. Challenge yourself to come up with as many questions as they have.
- When you’ve filled the surfaces, pick one from each of your lists. Talk about why these are important questions to ask, and what made you think of them.
- Challenge yourself and your child to come up with at least three different answers to these questions. Discuss the pros and cons of each answer, and listen carefully and patiently to one another. You don’t have to decide on a “winner”, but you do have to practice examining each one carefully.
- If one of you decides to do something other than write, that’s okay. You can draw an answer, or sing it, or build it out of Lego, or make it into a video.
- If one of you gets tired or hungry, it’s fine to stop for a while. Not only can you pick up the conversation later, but you should.
- If someone else wanders into the room and sees your glorious collection of questions, or overhears your answers, then that’s great too. The more, the merrier.
And that, wonderful thinkers, is how you start doing philosophy with a kid. You can make it more creative and complicated if you want to, but you don’t have to. It’s surprisingly catchy, and once you’ve tried it once, and your little thinker knows you’re open to it, it’ll happen again.
Happy World Philosophy Day, everyone!