Greenlands' Philosophy Adventure

A letter arrives addressed to your class. No one knows who sent it, or why…

Spring Term saw a new project with Grace, Carl, Emelia, Liz and Abbas at Greenlands Junior School, Sheffield. The project revived our exciting philosophical adventure model: term-long projects driven by correspondence from a mystery philosopher.

In January 2014, children in Year Five at Greenlands received a strange letter via a visitor to school whom they’d never met. Over the weeks and months that followed these letters were accompanies by objects, stories and puzzles that introduced philosophical problems about knowledge, punishment, identity, art, disgust, memory and time travel. The project culminated with a visit from Abbas in July 2014 who revealed himself as the mystery philosopher and led a whole morning of reflection on the highlights of the project and its aims and applications – challenging meta philosophy for ten and eleven year olds! The children loved meeting a professional philosopher and were full of questions about his work in philosophy of religion.

Here are some of the letters written by children in anticipation of meeting him:

“I have had so much fun over the past few weeks. However so many questions are wondering inside my head at this very second. In philosophy I have learned many new things. Philosophy has helped me improve my confidence a lot. It has also helped me to persevere inside school and outside schools. It has been an adventure in everything. Philosophy has been fun for everyone including me!” – Anon

“When the philosophers first came into our classroom we thought ‘who are they?’ They introduced themselves to us and said that they were philosophers and first we were all lost, I had never heard of the word ‘philosopher’. Then they explained ‘philosophers are someone who has a problem and them when you figure it out a new problem appears’ […] Over these past weeks we have learned loads of intriguing skills such as speaking and listening and our confidence has improved. We have learned about what art can be and if we had an invisibility ring what would we do? People were having a viewpoint (agreeing and disagreeing) we have improved our grammar and our language. We really enjoyed working with Grace and Carl.”

“Philosophy is a great way to open up your minds and make us think outside the box. Thinking is a fantastic way to help people get answers to the questions they are pondering about. In my opinion, more people should start taking up philosophy.” – Anikah

“So far in our thinking journey we have been wondering, questioning, predicting, clarifying and solving problems. With your magnificent stimuli its amazing how you make us think!” – Aina

This project was in association with the Philosophy Foundation.

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