This week, I wanted to share a scattering of the planets and islands we have been visiting at Philosophy Explorers, my online groups for 6-8 year olds. Some will work perfectly well with older students. You can book the courses at www.p4he.org. There are both daytime and after-school slots for 9-12 and teens in philosophy, improv and debating as well, and a fortnightly late session for adults.
The sessions are episodic stories with them in-role as astronauts (in the first few series) or mariners (recently) or time-travelers (this month onwards). Each week, they arrive in a new place and describe it (see italics below), and I create a story with philosophical or creative questions to suit. There are two groups on a Thursday, one at 9 a.m. and the other at 4.30 p.m. Sometimes an island invented by one group is too good to waste, and I stop off there with the other group.
Everything on this planet is opposite. Everything is said in Oppositish, so to talk you use the opposite of what you would normally say. They have problems such as who will guard the Opposite Prison, to which you get sent for doing good things. If you get a bad person to guard the prison, they are doing as they are told, which is good, so they should be in the prison…
This island is full of horses. A huge statue of a horse straddles the harbour like a colossus. The houses are made in the shape of horses, and the heads of the houses over the racecourse, where a horserace is in progress. Everyone is on horseback – except for a few unfortunates who have gambled away everything they own, including their horses. Should gambling be allowed? And what about horseracing? – a horse and rider are both limping off the track after a nasty fall.
You see something in the water. Lots of blobfish. On the island there was a statue of a blobfish, and it turns out that the blobfish is their image of beauty. Do they know what beauty is if that’s what they think?
The Tower of Happiness
There’s a tower stretching high into the sky. You ask them why they keep on building. There is a legend that when they build the last floor of the tower, they will find happiness. But each time they build a new floor, they are still not happy, so they keep on building. What do you think about that?
All people’s names are pictures. People talk by showing each other pictures of things. Some things are easy to say, such as “I want cake.” But things like friendship, fairness and so on are much harder to draw. Are there any things that cannot be drawn at all? We start in a place of imagination and play around there until something of philosophical interest bubbles to the surface.
P.S. The Level One course I’m running on Mondays Jan 25th, Feb 1st, Feb 8th is now bookable in our online shop, £199 + VAT. I’ll say more about it next week, and also about the Masterclasses in Questions, Writing Stimuli and Facilitating in the Now that I’ve integrated with it, and which you will be able to book separately.