Studying Philosophy Through Literature

News from the Middle School classroom

March 19, 2022

By Pete Johnson- Middle School Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher

Can middle school students study philosophy? Yes, they can! In middle school language arts, we have been using the novella The Pearl by John Steinbeck as a framework for studying big ideas and concepts. As we read the book, we’ve been analyzing the events in each chapter through a different philosophical lens and using the events in each chapter to prompt deeper discussions. At the beginning of each chapter, students independently complete a writing prompt about a big question, then they discuss their ideas with in small groups and with the whole class. Finally, we reference our discussion as we read the story. Below are some of the big questions that we have explored. I would encourage you to discuss these with your child. It may lead to a great discussion!

Big Questions

What makes something valuable?

What makes something or someone powerful?

We have control over our own lives. Agree or disagree?

We choose our own morals and values. Agree or disagree?

What do right and wrong look like? How can we know the difference?

What are the ingredients for happiness?

Below is a picture of students writing during language arts.