How can parents discuss philosophical matters with children?
Expert of international philosophy programs, teacher of «Philosophy» course in CISC_Kyiv Nadia Adamenko tells us about the importance of the parents’ communication with their children and about building a correct dialogue.
There are two conceptions of philosophy –
1) academic, or «professional» and 2) «amateur» philosophy (or philosophizing).
A person reading classical literature does not have to be a connoisseur of academic history of literature. A person making financial decisions in everyday life does not usually have to possess a deep understanding of the theory of probability, statistics and actuarial mathematics.
The same goes with philosophy. A person pondering over the things, phenomena, and people around is not always an expert in academic philosophy. Otherwise, we would have to recognize almost every human as professional philosopher or a teacher of philosophy 🙂
Philosophizing together with children means paying attention not simply to «what» the children think, but «how» they do it.
I think that philosophizing is possible only in «live» mode, when the parents’ and the child’s eyes are like mirrors one in front of the other. The communication unites, allows us to develop a real dialogue, holistic thinking and speech. And it is probably the greatest and, at the same time, the most obvious «trick» nowadays.
While working with the children of different ages, I mostly feel they lack communication at home. After realizing that they can communicate freely with the teacher, the children often start «taking skeletons out of the closet» about their personal matters or problems that they never discussed with the parents.
Of course, I try to teach them that they shouldn’t do it, instead offering a format of discussing matters common for everyone. Such moments could be avoided if the parents nurtured the culture of philosophical discussions within the family, found the time for joint comprehension of the matters and questions a child faces.
Responsible and conscious parenting involves not only the satisfaction of needs in nutrition or material goods, but also the creation of a comfortable and safe environment for relations and communication with the children.
How can we know that the parents and children have not just a discussion, but a conscious dialogue:
Personally I prefer the ken and distinctive advice from a modern French philosopher, author of many books on the topic Oscar Brenifier. It can be found in free access: http://www.mamamoldova.com/10-zapovedej-dlya-roditelej-ot-vsemirno-izvestnogo-detskogo-filosofa-oskar-brenife/. Here are a few summarized ideas:
- work on yourself constantly, develop patience towards your children;
- don’t be a «know-it-all» in all matters, providing your children with ready answers;
- learn to avoid perfectionism;
- don’t overstate your expectations to your children;
- when succumbing to emotions, don’t forget to think;
- teach them to be truthful in their answers about themselves, not to find excuses for themselves or the situations;
- don’t complicate things; there is no division into adult (meaning, «complex») and childish (meaning «simple»);
- don’t explain things, phenomena or situation before the child asks, don’t push the child to questions;
- learn to be flexible in the way you think and act;
- don’t treat the child’s way of thinking with pity no matter how uncomfortable the circumstances might be.
In my opinion, the teachers and the parents must be in close cooperation, it is vitally important. It would be even interesting to explain the advice offered by Oscar Benifier, to build the hypothesis together, the perspective of possible actions, or the other related advice applicable to this particular class.
What are the benefits of philosophical discussions with the children? Why are they so important?
Nowadays, the education becomes more and more oriented at the development of competences – critical and creative thinking, teamwork, logical argumentation etc. At the same time, the academic results in different subjects retain their importance. Philosophy allows us to see the situation as a whole, it helps to keep the balance and avoid skewing to only gaining knowledge or only acquiring competences.
For little children, any detail of this world, whether material or spiritual, is an impulse to a philosophical question. That is why I think that any «why?» is already philosophical.
And the important aspect is how the parents satisfy such need in finding answers. Sometimes, the parents give ready-made encyclopedic answers. But philosophizing together with children involves challenging them to search for the truth on their own. And the more the challenge is, the more the child is capable of being interested, of analyzing the information and generating interesting ideas.
Philosophizing together with the child helps him/her discover the mysteries of the world and find the answers.