Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Indirect teaching

I wrote a post about the book by Rabbi Dr.  Solomon Schonfeld on Jewish Religious Education recently.  In his book, among many excellent points, he writes about using literature as a tool for indirect learning, to reinforce and help students think about the points taught directly in other areas of the curriculum.  I've notices a while ago that young children like to philosophize and think about many different issues of philosophical nature.  So using stories that kids love to explore these philosophical ruminations further sounds like a good idea.   Therefore, I was very excited to find this link that helps one do just that.   As an aside there are quite a few books out there that use literature and other books that kids enjoy to teach a variety of subjects like art, music, history and even economics.  I find this idea rather intriguing.  So perhaps I'll collect some of these for a future post.


  1. Hmm... I agree that reading great literature is a wonderful way to teach children almost any subject (have you seen Life of Fred math? it's not GREAT literature, but it is kind of cute...)
    However, I believe the authors of the Well-Trained Mind and proponents of a "trivium" based classical education would disagree with the expectation that younger children be urged to make connections and draw conclusions among facts as they're being acquired and processed (ie grammar stage learning).
    I will check out the site, but at a preliminary glance, it looks (gasp) a bit twaddly. I'm looking at the Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day page, as a sample... it asks kids "why is violence bad?" and also "Does treating someone badly back when they've treated you badly help problems?"
    Sounds a bit twaddly; the "philosophical inquiry" reads a bit like a really boring quiz. Nevertheless, I'll keep poking around at the site, because I love philosophy - and I love kids!

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  3. I have heard of Life of Fred, but I haven't seen it yet. Honestly, I haven't looked at the site too closely or extensively. I just kind of like the idea of using whatever one is reading as a springboard for philosophical inquiry. So it's possible that the questions they came up with are not what you'd come up with and are more in tune with a regular twaddle diet but you don't have to use theirs, you can just come up with your own. I just find with myself, that sometimes a kernel of an idea takes one to all kinds of interesting places. And some of my kids think in a same way. As soon as I propose something they are already changing or improving upon it. But thanks for pointing it out, because I should probably make some things more explicit and not assume that everyone reads things in the same way I do. As to the logic stage material for grammar stage kids. I think that as long as you do all the grammar stage stuff with the kids already anyway, it can't hurt to let them ruminate a bit if they are up to it, even though their logic might not be as sophisticated as that of an older child or an adult. As I wrote, I do see that some children do think about philosophical questions and do like to contemplate such things, so I don't see why not, I am not a purist in this respect.