Critical Thomism and Kindergarten A Tract Book Essay By Anthony J. Fejfar, Esq., Coif © Copyright 2007 by Anthony J.

Fejfar

Some might think that philosophy is a subject that should only be taught in college or graduate school. I argue that Critical Thomism can be effectively taught beginning in Kindergarten. I argue that Critical Thomism taught in Kindergarten teaches critical thinking skills at an early age. The first thing that should be taught in Kindergarten is the concept of the number zero. Children should be taught the basic difference between “something” on the one hand, and “nothing” on the other hand. Once a child begins to understand the number zero, then the related concepts of space and freedom begin to make sense. The second thing that should be taught in Kindergarten is the Critical Thomist Cognitional Structure of : experience, understanding, judgment and reflection. This is based upon the work of Jesuit Philosopher, Bernard Lonergan. This teaching should be done experientially. Starting with experience, each child should be taught to feel a piece of fruit, or a

1

rock, or a piece of tree bark, then look at the piece of fruit or the rock, or the tree bark. In fun, then each child should try to taste the fruit or the rock, or the tree bark. The each child should try to smell the piece of fruit, the rock, or the tree bark. This all takes place at the level of sense experience. Once the child has engaged in the experience of a piece of fruit, a rock, a piece of tree bark, or some other experiential material, then it is time to go on to the level of understanding. On the level of understanding, the

child should verbally describe the piece of fruit, the rock, the piece of bark. Once the items have been described, then the child should be taught to find similarities and differences in the descriptive categories that have been used. For example, a child might find that both the rock and the tree bark fit into the category of “hard” while the fruit and the tree bark fit into the category of “plant.” This categorizing, comparing and contrasting is characteristic of level 2 understanding. Once understanding has been undertaken, then it is time for judgment and reflection. At this level, the child can judge that the hard object that is not a plant is a rock. At this level, Wisdom can ask many reflective questions such as whether fruit is good to eat, etc. Policy questions which go beyond mere categorization are level 3 Wisdom questions.

2

Finally, the students can begin each day with a jingle along side the Pledge of Allegiance: I experience, experience, understanding, Judgment and Reflection. I understand, experience, understanding, Judgment and Reflection. I Judge that I know reality through the related operations of experience, understanding, Judgment, and Reflection.

I argue that a child who engages the the exercises above will develop a critical reflective way of being, and will learn the basics of Critical Thomism at an early age.

3