Center for the Advancement of Philosophy in the Schools (CAPS)
Who We Are
The Center for the Advancement of Philosophy in the Schools (CAPS) brings philosophy into K-12 classrooms as a way of introducing philosophical issues and critical thinking skills to young people.
Upper division and graduate level CSULB philosophy students are trained in pedagogy prior to entering the public school classrooms. These students enroll in Philosophy 401, Philosophy in Education, taught by Debbie Whittaker, who has a master’s degree in philosophy, three California teaching credentials, and twenty years of teaching experience (elementary school through university level). The students then conduct weekly philosophical discussions in local schools, including Millikan High School, Los Alamitos High School, Marina High School, Fountain Valley High School, Willard Elementary School, and Lowell Elementary School. We partner with outstanding public school teachers, including Millikan High School teacher Nader Twal, who was recently selected by the Milkan Family Foundation as one of the best teachers in the United States.
The philosophical topics of discussion have included ethics, love, the meaning of life, death and the afterlife, logic, the nature of reality, human rights, and the existence of God. The lessons often include role-playing, short video clips from contemporary films that raise these issues, or formal debates. Students are asked to reflect on the lessons in weekly writing assignments. Philosophical progress is the goal of these lessons, and young people often comment that the activities have taught them to consider a variety of viewpoints. They also learn to provide strong, consistent reasons for their beliefs.
For more information, contact:
Debbie Whittaker, Managing Director
CSULB Philosophy Department
CAPS sponsored a conference on Philosophy and Ethics in Children ’s Literature at CSULB on June 21, 2001, as part of the CSULB K-16 Partnership Conference. Speakers included Dr. Gareth Matthews, a pioneer in the field of philosophy for children, and Claudia Mills from the University of Colorado, who incorporates children’s literature to teach ethics. Other speakers included Dale Turner from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and David Shapiro from the University of Washington.
The Department of Philosophy at CSULB offers a 3-unit service learning course (Philosophy 401: Philosophy in Education). Requirements include facilitating weekly classroom sessions in a local public school; developing lesson plans, writing assignments in which students summarize and reflect upon each teaching session and a final in-class lesson presentation. Students are encouraged to create innovative, “hands-on” philosophy lessons. Students also submit an article to Questions Magazine, a journal dedicated to philosophy with children.