A few years back, I was sitting in the crowd at a Kristina Olsen concert, when she slipped into one of many between-song anecdotes. She recalled a question that a child had asked after an earlier gig, and at first she got worried – the last song played had featured a number of sexual references, and she wasn’t sure how she was going to explain them, especially in the presense of the child’s mother. But, nevertheless, she calmed herself, believing that, “If a small child has a question, the whole world should stop until it’s answered.” Needless to say, the child’s question wasn’t quite what she had anticipated – a line from the song referred to how, in a manic state, she “…taught her fish to walk”, so the child, naturally, wanted to know how. A title from our La Trobe Australian History and Literature Collection entitled Education and everyday life looks at many of these sideways questions asked by children towards the adults around them.

Hawker Brownlow, c2005

This week at Outside-in cinema, the film Just a beginning looks at an early primary school class in France that sets out to have many of these kinds of open-ended conversations by way of teaching them about various aspects of philosophy, as opposed to waiting for the questions to be asked, as is the case with the previous text. What is love? What does it mean to be IN love? What is death? Who are you? Children philosophize worldwide, a book from our Redmond Barry Collection, takes a deeper and more academic approach to the ponderings that come from observing children when in such conversations.

Peter Lang, 2009

The philsophy of childhood, another title from that collection, takes a more relaxed, yet objective take on the intersection of the dual study of childhood and philosophy.

Harvard University Press, 1996

This can be a deceptively difficult area to search for material on, as many texts that cover the philosophical ideas around childhood can appear just as prevalent in catalogue searches as those on the personal philosophical thoughts of children. If, after a slow look through the descriptions of the texts, you are still having trouble, just ask one of the many librarians like myself and we’ll be more than happy to help you out.

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