The Philosophy of Time

For my online classes at last week I’ve been using a session on time from David Birch’s Thinking Beans (attached here) with some twists. 

Like David, I like to get the children doing “experiments” that give them an “in” to the discussion from their own immediate experience. So, I start the session by asking them all to guess how long 15 seconds is, raising a hand when they think that time has elapsed. We then kick off with the question, “Can you feel time?”. 

At several points in the session, there’s an argument, such as:
P1. The past is in the photograph. 
P2. The photograph is in the present.
C.    Therefore, the past is in the present. 

(My labels, for premises and conclusion). You can have people state e.g. “yes no yes”  on whiteboards to show which parts of an argument they agree with (I’ve been using the chat on zoom), and as with any Thinkers’ Game, making the thinking physical promotes engagement and lets you see and explore disagreements. 

This is the photo I’ve been using. Taken in 1913, these young men would all be dead within a year in the Great War (unimaginable at the time of the photo, and only in the forties demoted to “World War I”, which provides some interesting thoughts about pasts, presents and futures). The photo inspired Ted Hughes’s poem, Six Young Men which addresses the very question of the argument. 

Workshops for Curious Minds

One of the challenges of COVID-catch-up times is providing a suitable stretch for your most able learners, some of whom may have thrived during the lockdowns, when there is such an urgent need to support those who fell further behind.  
A very good use of resources is to have a one-day workshop that brings together 20-24 of the brightest sparks from several classes or schools for a full-day fusing philosophy, debating and improv where the sky is the limit for their thinking.  
These days can have a lasting legacy for the youngsters in new interests and new friendships. Because I enjoy them so much, I can do them on Fridays at a reduced rate of £750 + VAT and expenses. It must be the same group of children all day and it’s best if they have an open opportunity to apply to attend as well as a nomination route – identification by provision! Email us to discuss. 

Best wishes, 


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