In October, 2017, Madison Public Philosophy collaborated with the Odyssey Junior Program, part of the UW Odyssey Project, to help provide P4C to children and grandchildren of Odyssey students and alumni. The Odyssey Project offers a University of Wisconsin-Madison humanities class for adult students facing economic barriers to college. Students receive free tuition, textbooks, childcare, and a weekly dinner through support from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, grants, and private donations.
MPP worked with a wide range of ages at the Odyssey Junior Program, from kindergarten and elementary school students to high school students. In each lesson, we worked to create a community of inquiry around a particular topic.
Our first lesson, designed for elementary aged children, was about environmental ethics. Students read the book The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. Using the book as a prompt, students then engaged in a discussion, generating and answering questions about humans’ relationship to nature. Our second lesson, designed for middle school and high school students, included thought experiments from UW-Madison philosophy professor Dan Hausman’s research on the allocation of medical resources. These thought experiments were used to prompt a discussion about distributive justice.
Students were encouraged to think independently, evaluate each others’ arguments, and remain open to new discoveries during these lessons.