Professor Scott Hershovitz on the benefits of doing philosophy 'with' your kids
Your kids are naturally interested in—and very good at—philosophy, and might just help you re-kindle a sense of wonder at the everyday things around you
Scott, a professor of law and a professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan, wrote the book - ‘Nasty, Brutish and Short’ to help parents and kids explore philosophy and tackle some of life's biggest questions together.
Father of two boys, Scott, began telling his students at university stories about something his kids had done at home, and asked them how he should respond.
Scott was surprised by the frequency with which his sons raised the sorts of questions that he could discuss with his philosophy and law students.
It turns out that kids are naturally very good at philosophy.
When somebody’s excited about something don’t shut them down
Help them to think things through, don’t tell them how to think
In this interview Scott invites us to appreciate a wonderful and fun aspect of parenting that we might otherwise overlook.
Here are some of my takeaways:
Kids are naturally good at philosophy because between the ages of about 3 to 8 they are not afraid to ask questions or appear silly. This is a prime time to be exploring philosophy with them.
Complaints can be a great place to begin. If your child says something is ‘unfair’ you can try:
What does it mean to say something is unfair?
What would make this fair?
Is it a parent’s job to make sure everything comes out exactly fair?
Is there ever unfairness that works out in your favour and I should be undoing that?
Otherwise, if you’re wondering about something, try talking to your kids about it. Say, I’m confused about this (the bigger the question, the better). Get them involved, and be genuinely interested in their point of view.
Another thing you can try is visit the Prindle Institute for Ethics which has some great resources to download which help explore the philosophical aspects of well-known children’s books.
Most importantly, you can find Scott’s book Nasty, Brutish and Short here. I highly recommend giving it a read/listen.
I hope you enjoy this chat with Scott.
If you’d like to get in touch with Scott his Twitter handle is: @shershovitz
You can visit his website here.
The Prindle Institute for Ethics, mentioned in the interview, can be found here.
Hope you have a great week!