Philosophy for Children

Philosophy asks big questions: Is it permissible to lie? When did time start? Where do we come from?

Children approach these questions with refreshing open-mindedness and curiosity. They raise philosophical problems at a very early age: How do you know how I feel? What is death? Is it allowed to treat bad people badly?

In dealing with these questions, they are not afraid to question themselves as well as existing authorities. They are not yet burdened by a plethora of prejudices that they have acquired throughout their lives. In their unlimited creativity they see connections and find examples that amaze adults. In short: children are excellent philosophers!

On the other hand, children can learn a lot in philosophical discussions: having your own opinion is not enough, you have to be able to justify it. They see that even adults do not always have a solution and that some questions remain unanswered, even though we would very much like to know the answer. They learn that when you think about a question, you gain something even if you don’t find a solution! They learn to discuss and argue with each other about problems on which they have different opinions. In doing so, they develop their ability to present and defend their opinions clearly and to respond to the opinions of others.

For these reasons children are an enrichment for philosophy and philosophy is an enrichment for children! The Denkdetektiv is for this reason dedicated to teaching philosophy to children.

Bookprojects

Here is a selection of our current book projects.

Justice Heroes

What is fair?

 Imagine a (very, very tasty!) chocolate cake. Dividing it in a fair way is not so easy. There are several possibilities: Does everyone get exactly the same amount? Or does the one who has worked the hardest get the most? Or should, maybe, the person who is the most hungry be allowed to eat the biggest piece? We will look at different suggestions and consider together what is fair.

Democracy for Children

An introduction to democratic theory for children

Would it not be great if you and your two best friends could decide where the next class trip should go? What, however, if the three of you do not agree? How do you reach the right decision then? 

‘Democracy for Children’ deals with fundamental questions about how to make the right decision as a group, especially in cases where people have different opinions and want something different. Different theories and problems of democratic theory are thereby made accessible to children.

Workshops

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University for Children at the University Hamburg

In October 2018 I gave a lecture on distributive justice as part of the “Kinderuni” series (university for children), organised by the University of Hamburg and the Claussen-Simon-Stiftung, which aims to make academic research accessible to children. The lecture, which was attended by 1200 children between the ages of 8 and 12 as well as their parents and teachers, introduced various accounts of justice and discussed them critically with the children. The children were fascinated by the topic and actively participated in the discussion, suggesting various modifications to the theories and proposing their own approaches. For further information about the project see: https://www.claussen-simon-stiftung.de/de/bildung-schule/kinderuni/

 

University for Children - Goethe Institut Boston

In June and November 2019 I gave lectures in Washington and Boston on distributive justice as part of the “Kinderuni” series (university for children), organised by the Goethe Institute Washington.

About

Ana Laura Edelhoff is a philosopher at Oxford University. She is concerned with making philosophy accessible to children. She has given lectures for children in Hamburg, Oxford, Washington and Boston, especially in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut. Her lectures for children on the topic of justice have been attended by up to 1200 children and have been discussed in the children’s magazine Dein Spiegel as well as on the radio channel NDR.


„Children are the boldest philosophers. They enter life naked, not covered by the smallest fig leaf of dogma, absolutes, creeds. This is why every question they ask is so absurdly naïve and so frighteningly complex.“ 
(Jewgeni Samjatin)