Philosophy in the Schools (PHITS)
The Marc Sanders Foundation is proud to support PHITS, a program pairs college students and elementary school children for facilitated philosophical discussions. The program advances the Foundation’s mission of stimulating renewed appreciation of philosophy.
The Philosophy in the Schools (PHITS) program at Oberlin College rests on the principle that anyone, at any age, can do philosophy and that doing philosophy has value in our everyday lives. In the PHITS program, students at Oberlin College learn to facilitate philosophical discussions with elementary school children. To do this, the college students use a story or poem to introduce the children to a ‘Big Question’ — say, the question of what makes an action right or wrong, or the question of whether numbers exist. In confronting philosophical questions, the school children practice how to articulate and defend their views, understand and appreciate the views of others, and uncover some of their most basic assumptions about themselves and the world. The college students develop these same skills by learning to translate complex philosophical arguments into kid-friendly puzzles and prompts, and by reflecting on the progress and outcomes of the children’s discussions.
The PHITS program is designed to integrate with and support the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. This curriculum, for grades K through 12, emphasizes the importance of developing skills in critical reflection and respectful listening that apply across subjects and promote engaged global citizenship. The natural fit between PHITS and IB suggests a distinctive way in which philosophy can play a role in community life.