Are children more free than adults?

…was discussed in one of our recent online lessons at www.p4he.org and it’s one you could ask your class with fairly minimal set up. It has the all crucial ingredients of a great P4C question, because it’s…

Contestable – two reasonable people can disagree.

Common – the concepts and terms are familiar to children.

Connected (to their experience) – children have plenty of evidence to draw on, whatever they’re aguing!

Central – it’s important to their lives – largely because of the two C’s above.

In the online class, it didn’t take long for children to realise that there were different kinds of freedom – so many different ways to approach the question. For example, children had more “behaviour freedom” than adults – in that they could get away with stuff in public that adults couldn’t. Or were they? In school, and generally at home, a child’s behaviour tends to be policed in a way an adults’ is not. Debate ensued!

So we explored other kinds of freedom, and worked out who were more free in different senses – children or grown ups.

  1. Physical freedom – the ability to move or travel where they wish
  2. Financial freedom – the ability to buy what they want to
  3. Thinking freedom – the ability to make up their own mind about what is right/wrong

What other kinds of freedom can your class come up with?

An easy way to introduce this to your class

Label one end of the room “Adults” and the other end “Children.” Learners can move to the end of the room they think is more free in the particular sense you specify. 

To challenge their thinking further, expand the options to include teenagers, and the elderly.

No matter how diverse your class, one perspective that’ll obviously be missing from their conversation is the adult one! So consider adding an empty chair to the space, and let them wonder what an adult would say about the questions. Or more than one empty chair – to show that not all adults think the same! You and other adults in the room can put forward suggestions for what the absent-adult would say, which is a clever way of providing this view without looking like you’re putting your own oar in.

Best wishes,

Tom and Jason

Sticky Question of the week

Questions that invite comparisons between adults and children are great to send home. Many feature in our Sticky Questions packs – which help every class do P4C every week through a mix of class-talk and home-talk. Learn more at www.thephilosophyman.com/stickyquestions

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