Philosophy, the “love of wisdom,” begins with wonder about the world. It is one of the oldest academic disciplines, but traditionally it has not been considered a subject for children. Yet young people ask philosophical questions and are curious about philosophical issues: How do we know things? What is beauty? How are the mind and body connected? Young people do not need to learn philosophy; it is something they do.

© Susie Fitzhugh

© Susie Fitzhugh

© Susie Fitzhugh

© Susie Fitzhugh

© Susie Fitzhugh

 

2016 marks the Center’s 20-year anniversary!


Founded in 1996, the University of Washington Center for Philosophy for Children was created with the aim of empowering young people to think for themselves through introducing them to philosophy. The Center became affiliated with the University of Washington’s Department of Philosophy in 1997.

We use children’s books, literature and a range of activities to inspire exploration of life’s essential questions, such as: Who am I? Is justice possible? What is a good life? What is beauty? Is life fair?

As one of our second grade philosophy students put it, “It’s what you think that makes you who you are.”

Acquiring confidence in their own perspectives and skills at developing and expressing their ideas can make a real difference in children’s lives. When children are introduced to philosophy, they learn to trust their own ideas and questions, which empowers them to take control of their own learning.

Our Programs

 

Philosophers in the Schools Program.
This program begins in the fall and runs through June each year, with regular philosophy sessions in many elementary, middle, and high schools around Seattle led by faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and volunteers. Since 1996, the program has introduced philosophy to thousands of students from preschool through high school.
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Workshops for Teachers.
Our interactive workshops give teachers tools for bringing philosophical inquiry into K-12 classrooms. Workshops are free of charge and held at the University of Washington, and teachers earn Washington State clock hour credits for attending.
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Washington State High School Ethics Bowl.
The Center runs the annual Washington State High School Ethics Bowl. Modeled after the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, the High School Ethics Bowl involves teams of high school students analyzing a series of wide-ranging ethical dilemmas, such as questions about plagiarism, peer pressure, abuse of social media free speech, gun control, cloning, and stem cell research.
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Parent Education Project.
Our resources for parents support their engagement in philosophical discussions with their children. We host parent workshops at public libraries, PTA meetings, and other locales.
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University Courses.
Four annual courses in philosophy for children at the University of Washington allow UW graduate and undergraduate students to participate in leading philosophy sessions in K-12 classrooms with supervision and mentoring from experienced instructors.
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Graduate Fellowships in Philosophy for Children.
In 2013, the Center established a graduate fellowship program. The Center currently has four graduate Philosophy for Children fellows. Fellowships are open to graduate students in the UW Philosophy Department and College of Education.
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The center is funded primarily by grants, tax-deductible donations, and workshop and other program fees.

For more information, please contact us