Center for Philosophy for Children Update - Autumn 2013

Submitted by Kate Goldyn on

by Jana Mohr Lone, Director

The Center for Philosophy for Children has had a year of exponential growth. We're very excited about the expanding regional and national K-12 philosophy field and the Center's role in supporting new initiatives around the country. The University of Chicago is starting a pre-college philosophy center modeled on the UW Center, and director Jana Mohr Lone will be the keynote speaker at their launch event this fall. We are also working with the University of Hawaii to organize a philosophy for children symposium there that will bring together people in the field from Washington, Hawaii, and Japan.

This summer the Center received a three-year grant from the Squire Family Foundation to launch the first philosopher-in-residence program in the Seattle public schools, starting this fall at John Muir Elementary School. John Muir is a culturally diverse K-5 school in Seattle's Rainier Valley, and many students there are among those least likely to have access to academic enrichment programs. The Center has been working closely with teachers and staff at John Muir for the past three years to bring philosophy into most of the school's classrooms: philosophy has been introduced into every grade level at the school, Center staff have facilitated a monthly philosophy professional learning community for teachers and staff for the last two years, and many John Muir teachers have now attended one of the Center's summer workshops. This new program will involve the regular presence at the school of philosopher Karen Emmerman, who received her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Washington in 2012 and started working with the Center and teaching philosophy classes at John Muir in 2010. Karen will also be teaching a philosophy class at Nova High School on Capitol Hill.

Our fall Philosophy for Children class at UW involves 25 undergraduates who, as part of the Center's "Philosophers in the Schools" outreach program in the Seattle public schools, are observing and facilitating philosophy sessions at both John Muir and Whittier Elementary School in Ballard. A recent issue of the UW's community newsletter Front Porch highlighted this program.

Three Philosophy for Children fellowships for graduate students in the Philosophy Department or the College of Education begin this year. This year's fellows are Janice Moskalik and Amy Reed-Sandoval (Philosophy) and Alain Sykes (College of Education). The fellows will be involved in our Philosophers in the Schools program, including mentoring the undergraduate students participating in the program.

The Center is organizing the first Washington State High School Ethics Bowl, sponsored by the Philosophy Department, which will be held in Savery Hall on Saturday, February 1, 2014. An Ethics Bowl is a collaborative yet competitive event in which teams analyze a series of wide-ranging ethical dilemmas. This exercise deepens the students' awareness of interesting ethical, legal and philosophical issues. This national competition has grown rapidly in recent years, and the winner of the Washington State High School Ethics Bowl will advance, with expenses paid, to the National High School Ethics Bowl, to be held at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in April 2014. Judges for the Washington State High School Ethics Bowl will be drawn from the local judicial, legal, and philosophical communities.

The Center held another summer workshop in June at UW with overflow attendance. The workshop focused on ways to introduce philosophy to young people, with separate tracks for elementary school and middle/high school teachers. Teachers from 12 different schools attended.

The Center was formerly known as the Northwest Center for Philosophy for Children, but is now known as the University of Washington Center for Philosophy for Children This name change builds awareness of the Center's connection with the University of Washington and reflects the Center's national and international work.

All of the Center's work is made possible by the donations of private donors - we hope you will consider supporting our work. We really appreciate your gifts - thank you very much!


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