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The wisdom of Evan

ateliers de philosophie pour enfants.
Deux garçons avec une vessie, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1769

Evan, a little boy of 6 years old, has been coming to the workshops I lead every week for children from 6 to 8 years old for almost six months now.

I remember the first time he came he was quite confused and frustrated by the rules of the workshop.

He is a very intelligent little boy who is used to impressing adults with his wit and knowledge.

So it was strange for him when he saw that in the philosophy workshop he could not monopolize the floor, express himself without hindrance, but that he had to dialogue, take into account the ideas of others.

"I want to say my idea!"

"Wait, before you give your idea, you must first say whether you understood what your classmate just said."

"But I wanted to say my idea!"

"I know, but we're thinking about your friend's idea right now. You can say your idea later.

At first, he sulked. Then, as the sessions went on, he began to get used to this new game of philosophical dialogue, and he tolerated the frustration better.

The other day, I suggested that the children come up with hypotheses to answer their own questions. One of them was "Who created life?" One little girl, Cherin, told us that she thought it was God. I asked her why she thought God created life. "Because he has all the power, he decides everything."

"And why did God decide to create life?" The question surprised her, "Maybe because without humans he had no work, he was bored." Chloe cut her off by saying that this idea sucked because she didn't believe in God anyway. I reminded her that you don't have the right to cut off the speaker even if you don't agree with their idea at all.

I asked if anyone wanted to offer an alternative hypothesis to the question "Who created life?" Evan raised his hand and said, "I don't believe in God, but I'd still like to propose an idea for Cherin's idea. Maybe God thought, it sucks that there's no one on the planet, it would be better with humans and living things, and so he created life."

To welcome the idea of the other, to seek to give it meaning, even when this idea is not "ours", here is a proof of generosity and intellectual maturity. And a beautiful lesson in philosophy.

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