Resources for Middle School

Here is my list of resources to help you get started with philosophy. Think of it as the new math or Math 2.0. Same brain part, bigger challenges...

Philosophy resources for middle school

An internet search for 'middle school philosophy' turns up websites that are not helpful at all. You'll find either questions or a directive to create a syllabus. One exception is the Plato website which is loaded with canned lessons (thanks plato website, just what I need). You may note that I stole their picture of bored middle school students having a discussion. We don't find the topics boring at all, such as this topic which involves an explitive.

I'm just beginning to experiment with the material on the Plato webstie. My approach is to peruse philosophy for my own enjoyment, making note of questions or themes that are age appropriate. Some of these are duds, like anything truth or beauty, and some of these are gold like the concept of the self. My go to website to prepare material is Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy if you're weird like me. If you're normal, PBS put together a series on youtube call Crash Course in philosophy.

Our syllabus for middle school philosophy is to view all 46 eight minute videos from the Crash Course. The challenge with these videos is that they are too fast for kids. One of my child's teachers uses Crash Course for history, but he slows down the video. My approach is to watch it and propose the questions to my child. Then he has to watch it or he doesn't get to play video games. A discussion argument follows, sometimes for days. Sometimes I wiki the topic to bolster my argument. The topic concludes when my student can articulate his position. It's like the Word Board all over again.

What I'd really like to do is make my kids watch Shelly Kagan's course at Yale. I'm afraid they would be as bored as I am fascinated. Would it help the kids to get a real live taste of a college course? I don't think so. It would just turn them off to philosophy. They can experience it when they're ready to appreciate it.

Jumping into the debate so late in the game, I've noticed that all of the arguments for God, the soul, the afterlife etc are now hopelessly out of date and invalid. I can't tell if the students at Yale came to the same conclusion because I don't grade their papers. For example, the concept of a soul credibly existed because science could not explain the mind. In fact, philosophy is the bucket of knowledge that can't be explained by science. The material in this bucket is shrinking. I think we need a brand new set of unexplained concepts to explain with philosophy. I'm working on it.

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