What is language? What is beauty? Who gets to decide?
Philosophers have grappled with these questions for centuries, and they’ve generated a pile of long (and often tortured) books in their efforts to answer them.
But for Tom Wartenberg, some of the best books about philosophy are much shorter and a lot more colorful: Frog and Toad Are Friends. Horton Hears a Who! The Paper Bag Princess.
Every spring at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., Wartenberg offers Philosophy 280: Philosophy for Children. Once a week, he loads his students into a bus and drives them to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School of Excellence in nearby Springfield.
I was recently a finalist for a superintendency in a nearby district, and while responding to questions that were posed to me by the middle school staff during my site visit, I shared a story with them about some students at my current school.
During the meeting with these educators, I told them that I was not an “MCAS driven” principal. MCAS is the state test for Massachusetts, and like many other states that have mandated, standardized tests, it’s primarily used for accountability purposes. My staff and I also use it to try and inform ourselves on where we can celebrate successes with students and where we can make improvements. Over the course of six years that I have been a principal in Lexington, very little has come from my office related to MCAS, other than the minimal reminders for parents and students to get a good night’s rest and eat a good breakfast, along with our annual report card that I am required to share with the public.