A playful philosophy class

Erasmus Alumni Chain: Kleine Grote Denkers

Getting familiar with one’s own thoughts is a skill best developed early in life, Kilian and Ruud believe. Hence, these philosophy alumni developed their own philosophy method for elementary school children: ‘Kleine Grote Denkers’ (Little Big Thinkers). Philosophizing is not only a fun activity for children, but also a good preparation for the future, they think.

Teacher in front of a class

Erasmus Alumni Chain - Kleine Grote Denkers

Do robots have feelings? Can an animal be punished? A few pensive faces can be traced during Kilian and Ruud's philosophy class. But the children of OBS de Wending are also having fun. Based on Kilian and Ruud's ‘Little Big Thinkers’-cards, each conveying a philosophical question, they enter into a philosophical conversation with one another. In groups of four, they are given a stack of cards, with topics ranging from technology to sustainability and happiness. After reading the cards aloud, children may communally formulate an answer, while being encouraged to justify their argument. After this session, groups discuss their findings with the whole classroom. “Some kids really enjoy it”, says school director Astrid, “and our teachers are also learning a thing or two."


Philosophy class is not only fun, but also prepares children for their future, explains Kilian; "You can hardly name a job where free, independent thinking is not important, and is not expected of you." The philosophy lessons taught by Kilian and Ruud are not about the reproduction of facts. On the contrary, playfully discovering and gaining confidence in one's own thought process, but also that of other children, is paramount. That’s why Ruud stresses the importance of listening as well: “Understanding why someone else thinks differently than you do, makes one develop good citizenship.” In ten years' time, these ‘big thinkers’ would like to have convinced all schools in the Netherlands of the value of playful philosophizing.

Can you answer all their questions? Watch the video quickly!

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