At the time of writing, I’m an employee with the Department of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M. My duties include managing inventory, odd jobs for my supervisor, and writing articles for the website. This is the first story of mine that I’ve written and uploaded for them. It’s over Dr. Claire Katz, of A&M’s philosophy department, and the summer camp that she has been setting up for the summer of 2016. The camp is meant to allow teenagers with an interest in philosophy to meet, learn, and discuss. It was published on February 29, 2016. Here is the text of the article and a link to the website:
What is ethics? Do we have moral obligations to animals? What is the meaning of life? These are questions that philosophers have pondered for generations, and in June, 25 teenagers will also search for answers during the Aggie Philosophy for Teens Camp.
According to Claire Katz, the camp director and professor in the Department of Philosophy, the camp, which is open to kids from sixth to twelfth grade, “will introduce students to some of Western philosophy’s most influential ideas and persistent questions. The camp offers students a transformative experience.”
Katz said that teaching philosophy to pre-college age students is a vital part of their education that is often ignored.
“When I think about my own daughter’s education in high school, she’s being introduced to sociology and psychology, and that’s just great. But what’s really interesting is that philosophy is still not being introduced in the pre-college classroom,” Katz said, “If we look at it academically, we know from studies that cognitive ability increases, mathematical ability increases, [and] creative thinking increases.”
Katz went on to say that, while philosophy can help with problem-solving, it also helps students learn how to ask questions – which is a lot different than learning how to answer a question. She said that they are trying to teach kids how to be more active thinkers.
“The idea of the camp is to focus on kids who are outside of the baby-sitting range. Teenagers are developing intellectually, and they can engage in a sustained intellectual discussion. We want to provide a space for them to do something that really is not offered by the pre-college classroom,” she said.
Katz got the idea to create a philosophy summer camp last year, when she was speaking with Robert Bisor, who directs Public Partnership and Outreach in the Office of the Provost. Katz had wanted to start teaching philosophy at her daughter’s high school, and she wanted Bisor to give her support. Bisor, however, had another idea.
“He said, ‘how about a summer camp?’” Katz said.
Soon after, they got word of graduate students at the University of Kentucky hosting a philosophy summer camp. Katz got in touch with them, and slowly the project came together.
The camp will take place from June 20-24, and will have a Spanish language option. Texas A&M graduate students and professors will teach the courses.
To register, visit the Philosophy for Children Texas website, at http://p4ctexas.tamu.edu/.