In our Ideas Matter segment we take time just about every week to check in with the state humanities councils in our 7-state region.
Today, we will learn about a website called “What’s the Big Idea?” which holds a curriculum for teaching middle-school students about philosophy—big ideas—through film. The curriculum, created in 2013 and funded in part by Mass Humanities, features film clips and introductory philosophy lessons, with a goal of helping students learn how to have in-depth, civil discussions about topics that are important to them and that are actually philosophical in nature. Issues covered are rooted in ethics and include: bullying, lying, friendship, peer pressure, and environmental ethics.
We are joined today by Tom Wartenberg, professor of philosophy at Mount Holyoke College, who co-created “What’s the Big Idea?” with filmmaker Julie Akeret. Tom joins us now to tell us about how and why he and Julie created the website, as well as how the curriculum is being used and CAN be used in classrooms.