P4C: If you could ask an object a question…

Prince Charles once admitted to talking to his plants and comedian Miranda Hart struck a chord with thousands in April when she tweeted that “it is absolutely normal, and to be encouraged, when you find yourself talking to objects. I just said ‘thank you, you are really good at what you do’ to a hoover.” It’s something we all probably do on occasion and perhaps more when living under lockdown! The topic of talking to objects (and them talking back) is a brilliant way to get children talking to each other:

How to use these questions: Popular culture is littered with object-anthropomorphism, from the Toy Story films to Beauty and the Beast, so it’s an easy thing for children to speculate about.  These questions unlock fun, creative thinking. Asking them on their own are a great way to start the day or to pick up energy in the afternoon. You could use them to practise turn-taking or as a verbal rehearsal for writing.  Whilst not strictly philosophical, playful questions like these can serve as a warm-up for an enquiry on our relationship with objects: throwaway culture, “stuffocation” and sustainability being just a few concepts that come to mind. There’s also the excellent session on objects in Thinking Beans by David Birch which we recently published. You might explore questions like:

  • Do all objects deserve respect?
  • Which objects do we want and which do we need?
  • Can someone own too many objects?

You might also explore writing from the point of view of an object to create a stimulus. “The Life of a Penny” was once a well-worn storywriting exercise, but there was a whole genre in Victorian time of writing from the point of view of objects, revived recently in Anatomy of a SoldierWhat’s Sticky Questions? If you’re looking for a way to develop homework and involve parents at the same time, you might be interested in our Sticky Questions packs each designed for different year groups. The two above are from our pack for 4-5 year olds (but could be enjoyed by anyone!). Watch pupils and teachers at Stivichall Primary School explain how Sticky Questions works:

Year group packs begin at just £40. See all options in our online shop.
Best wishes,
PS: If you want to go deeper on this topic and read about illusions, time-slices and spatial occupation, Philosopher Raymond Tallis has written a brilliant article about scrutinising material objects for Philosophy Now. Enjoy!

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