The Christian Science Monitor

Reading, writing, and…Rousseau? Why Philosophy 101 starts young in France

Cédric Cagnat begins his philosophy class by lighting a white candle in the middle of a circle of a dozen 7- to 10-year-olds here in the Médiathèque Eugène Flachat, a library in the northern Paris suburb of Asnières-sur-Seine.

“What is philosophy?” he asks. The group stares wide-eyed at first, until Mr. Cagnat breaks down the concept into chewable pieces. Philosophy, he explains, is a chance to listen to one another and communicate. And today is unlike a regular day at school, where teachers often talk at students without asking for their input.

“How many times in your day do adults ask you your

For children, a natural fit Empowering children

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