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New service-learning course, Philosophy for Children

Alan Flurry

The Department of Philosophy is excited to announce a partnership with the Office of Service Learning to introduce the new course, Philosophy for Children (PHIL 3900S). Developed by PhD student Michael Lindquist, the course allows UGA students an opportunity to do philosophy with K-12 students in programs at the Athens-Clarke County Library as well as at the East Athens Community Center, enabling them to fulfill UGA’s experiential learning requirement.

"We are really excited to be running our first service-learning course this year. Michael Lindquist has done stellar work designing the course and making connections with community partners,” says department head Aaron Meskin. “This will be a great opportunity for students to explore philosophy outside of the university context and engage with the local community."

“I’ve always enjoyed working with kids,” says Lindquist, who had a former career as an environmental educator. “Looking back at my own experience in middle and high school, there wasn’t that much opportunity for real interesting critical engagement. I hope this experience will give kids a space to open up and think about things in a way they might not be getting in school.”

Due to the pandemic, the program at the Athens-Clarke County Library will be an online experience involving middle and high schoolers. “We are creating a club that allows kids to ask better questions and lead to better critical thinking skills,” explains Teen Services Regional Coordinator Jen Schumann, noting that the program will appeal to teens’ innate social nature. “Our hope is that we can create this connection with service learning students and encourage them to come back, live and in person. I think they’ll really enjoy talking to one another and engaging with UGA students.”

At the East Athens Community Center, service learning students will have an opportunity to engage directly with elementary school-aged children through the outdoor "Grow It Know It" gardening and food program, allowing them to do environmental philosophy and enabling philosophical engagement via STEM fields. 

Lindquist hopes that the course will appeal to education majors who will soon make practicing philosophy part of their everyday careers. “A great way to learn about teaching is by teaching—not only will we learn about working with kids, but we will actually work with kids,” he explains. “Philosophy has something important to offer kids pre-college. It’s always great to see what kids are capable of, sometimes we sell them short…they’re likely to surprise you.”

There is perhaps no better way to support the intellectual growth and development of our fellow citizens than introducing philosophy to young people. Such an innovative new course continues to help experiential learning fulfill its promise for our students – leveraging existing expertise on campus and pushing it in new directions to make a difference in the lives of others. Congratulations to the students and faculty who make education come alive in our community, jumpstarting the lifelong learning journey of many kids long before we welcome them to UGA as students. Thinking is important for everyone.

Image: UGA photo from Athens Tutorial Program, 2018, by Dorothy Kozlowski.


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