Dr. Sharon Kaye

Dr. Sharon Kaye

Dr. Sharon Kaye is Professor of Philosophy at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. She has published numerous articles and books, which have been translated into several languages. She runs a philosophy for kids program and has 2 young kids.

 

Philosophy for Kids

Every academic discipline is rooted in philosophy. It was philosophers who first started asking the deep questions that lead to knowledge of ourselves and the world.

As parents and teachers, we so often wants to give students the answers—the faster and easier the better. But answers are meaningless when they are the result of someone else’s inquiry. Student inquiry makes learning meaningful. How can we promote inquisitiveness?

Being inquisitive is not a skill, a strategy, or a technique; it’s a disposition. The good news is that this disposition comes naturally to children. The bad news is that our society discourages inquisitiveness—as an inconvenience at best, as a threat at worst. How can we counteract this chilling effect?

As Martha Nussbaum argues in Cultivating Humanity (Harvard, 1998), fiction provides powerful role models for fostering positive dispositions. Spending time with good characters in compelling books influences us. We laugh, we cry, we are moved. This is our affective education.

As a writer, I want to validate and promote inquisitiveness through stories about children who aren’t afraid to ask difficult questions. For example, what is goodness? In this session we’ll look at a picture book I wrote about a boy who has decided that the picture he drew is imperfect and therefore worthless. Two characters in the picture object, insisting that something that is not perfect can still be good. We learn about principles originally put forth by Plato in his quest for a perfect world and Aristotle’s rejection of that world.