Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Jonathan Krohn Not Your Average Everyday Indoctrinated Child

This child is a breath of fresh air in these times of right-wing CRAZY. He, at the early age of 17 has gone through an epiphany of an entire lifetime (--78.2 years in the USA-- that is if one, is capable of thinking). Starting out at the age of 13 as a conservative pundit (His political philosophy, he now believes came from the right-wing hate radio that he listened to everyday in his home of Georgia.) spouting all the right words that the right-wing radio talk hosts repetitively (ad nauseam) jam down the throats of their obedient, low information listeners. He has a brilliant mind and can memorize volumes of information all at once; so in essence the garbage went in from the right-wing hate radio and he pumped it out from his innocent frontal lobes. Now that he is older, he is pondering upon those automated unenlightened thoughts that he believed were correct and finds out that so many of his beliefs were not only wrong but did not coordinate with his perception of life. HAT'S OFF TO JONATHAN KROHN! thinkingblue
Philosophy for Children
First published Thu May 2, 2002; substantive revision Mon Jun 8, 2009
In the United States, philosophy typically makes its formal entry into the curriculum at the college level. A growing number of high schools offer some introduction to philosophy, often in special literature courses for college bound students. In Europe and many other countries, it is much more common to find philosophy in the high school curriculum. However, philosophy prior to high school seems relatively uncommon around the world. This may suggest that serious philosophical thinking is not for pre-adolescents. Two reasons might be offered for accepting this view. First, philosophical thinking requires a level of cognitive development that, one may believe, is beyond the reach of pre-adolescents. Second, the school curriculum is already crowded; and introducing a subject like philosophy will not only distract students from what they need to learn, it may encourage them to become skeptics rather than learners. However, both of these reasons can be challenged. They will be addressed in turn.

1. Are Children Capable of Philosophical Thinking?
Jean Piaget's (1933 ) well-known theory of cognitive development suggests that prior to age 11 or 12, most children are not capable of philosophical thinking. This is because, prior to this time, children are not capable of “thinking about thinking,” the sort of meta-level thinking that characterizes philosophical thinking. This “formal operational” level of cognitive development includes analogical reasoning about relationships, such as: “Bicycle is to handlebars as ship is to rudder, with ”steering mechanism“ being the similar relationship” (Goswami, p. xxi). However, there is a growing body of psychological research suggesting that Piaget's account seriously underestimates children's cognitive abilities (Astington, 1993; Gopnik, et al.).

Philosopher Gareth Matthews goes further and argues at length that Piaget failed to see the philosophical thinking manifest in the very children he studied. Matthews (1980) provides a number of delightful examples of very young children's philosophical puzzlement. For example:

•TIM (about six years), while busily engaged in licking a pot, asked, “Papa, how can we be sure that everything is not a dream?” (p. 1)
•JORDAN (five years), going to bed at eight one evening, asked, “If I go to bed at eight and get up at seven in the morning, how do I really know that the little hand of the clock has gone around only once? Do I have to stay up all night to watch it? If I look away even for a short time, maybe the small hand will go around twice.” (p. 3)
•One day JOHN EDGAR (four years), who had seen airplanes take off, rise, and gradually disappear into the distance, took his first plane ride. When the plane stopped ascending and the seat-belt sign went out, John Edgar turned to his father and said in a rather relieved, but still puzzled, tone of voice, “Things don't really get smaller up here.” (p. 4)
Matthews acquired many of his anecdotes from friends who knew of his interest in the philosophical thinking of children. It is not uncommon for attentive adults to encounter such examples.

However, it might be objected that more than such anecdotes are needed to show that children are capable of serious philosophical thinking. What is needed is evidence that children are capable of sustained philosophical discussion. Matthews (1984) provides illustrations of this, too. Meeting with a group of 8–11 year olds, he used the following example to develop a story for discussion:

Ian (six year old) found to his chagrin that the three children of his parents' friends monopolized the television; they kept him from watching his favorite program. “Mother,” he asked in frustration, “why is it better for three children to be selfish than one?” (Matthews 1984, 92–3)
This generated a lively discussion in which children commented on the inconsiderateness of the three visiting children, the desirability of working out a solution that would satisfy all four children, the importance of respecting people's rights, and how one might feel if he or she were in Ian's place. Matthews then posed a possible utilitarian approach: “What about this argument, that if we let the three visitors have their way, three people will be made happy instead of just one?” One reply was that it would not be fair for three people to get what they want at the expense of a fourth. This triggered a discussion of fairness that addressed more specific concerns about the relative ages of the children, whether they are friends, siblings, or strangers—and what types of television programs are involved.

No doubt, part of the explanation of the children's ability and willingness to carry on an extended discussion of Ian's circumstance is that they have faced similar challenges. Still, the children exhibited a rather sophisticated conceptual grasp of the issues at hand, which is what one might expect from children once they are invited to reflect on their own experiences. MORE HERE:

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