Reader Comments: Little Big Minds

allisonwilliamsMarietta with Allison William’s Philosophy Club from The Collegiate School after Marietta’s talk at the Library of Virginia upon the release of How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most.

Here’s what others have said about Little Big Minds:

“On behalf of the Xavier University School of Education and Counseling Department, I would like to thank Marietta for visiting Evanston Academy, a Cincinnati Public School, and sharing concepts from her book, “Little Big Minds: Sharing Philosophy with Kids” with 40 third graders. It was fascinating to watch these young philosophers offer their ideas about “enjoying life’s simple pleasures,” “areas in which they can grow,” and “the importance of quiet reflection.” One of the teachers remarked, “I am really looking forward to reading Little Big Minds so I can continue what Marietta started. I have always thought of my students as little philosophers, but now I have a roadmap to help facilitate these discussions. That was great!”

Brent G. Richardson, Ed.D. LPCC-S
Xavier University Counseling Department Chair, Professor
Author of Working with Challenging Youth: Seven Guiding Principles

“It was great to be a part of “The Philosopher’s Table” discussion last weekend. Hearing you speak was a breath of fresh air. After Sara and I left, I mentioned to her that I felt as if I had gone to church.

Thank you for being such a gifted teacher, Marietta. Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for changing my life for the better. Your work touched my life in a lasting way and I will forever be thankful that life placed you in my path.

It’s been close to twenty years since I sat in your classrooms, Marietta, yet I vividly remember your passion for teaching philosophy to third grade children and your thoughts on how the education system needs a philosophical overhaul. It has been a joy to watch your success from afar. A special treat was hearing your interview on NPR. I think that I was grinning from ear to ear through most of the interview. Diane Rehm was downright giddy. What a fantastic moment. It is beautiful to see the fruits of your years and years of hard work. I hope that you are aware of how many lives you have touched through your teaching. Now that your books are out in the world, the possibilities for lives positively affected are endless.”
Carla Shifflett, Waynesboro, Virginia


“I am blown away by your approach of sharing philosophy with children. What a natural you are. I just finished reading your book “Little Big Minds” after “accidentally” finding it at my local library … what a find … I have now bought two copies … one for me and one for my daughter for Mother’s Day. I have also purchased “The Philosopher’s Table” and “How Philosophy Can Save Your Life.” I look forward to returning over and over to your teaching approach in “Little Big Minds.” I am fortunate, in that, my daughter and I share the love of reading … (being former middle school librarians.) We have had many philosophical conversations about what is important for the education of her daughters, Ryan Violet and Kellen Catherine and their cousin, T.J. Your ideas provide a whole treasure chest of ideas to continue our journey. Thank you. I am so glad to have found your wisdom.”
Nancy Cleckner, St. Charles, Illinois


“1) I love thinking and reflecting about all of this. By creating the space to do so, you’ve almost created a sacred space (and I don’t use that term lightly). How refreshing!

2) The connections between all are beginning to dawn on me. I’m beginning to traverse time, context, cultural artifacts, and it’s all coming together.

3) I want to experience this with others. Humans are social beings and the book calls to this introvert to join others in exploration.

4) I love hearing about some of the children’s reactions – and in a way that I can truly hear them – like gently-spiced food, adding to the overall, without overwhelming any of the facets.
You go, girl!”
Nan Ottenritter, Richmond, Virginia


“I read your book and absolutely love the ideas presented in it. Unfortunately I missed your summer workshop and am interested in exploring working with children as philosophers. I would not categorize myself as a teacher in the least bit, my background is in business, but I love big ideas. … Thank you for sharing your knowledge through your writing. It’s inspiring.”
Pam Hay, Chicago, Illinois


“We have received your donation of books for Mother of Civilization Library today. The books have already been checked and properly cataloged in the library and are now available for use by everyone. Your donation of books is a great addition to our library Program.

They will really help our people to gain more knowledge about internationally well-known philosopher’s contribution. They are great reference books that we can use. We hope that your generosity will be followed by many school, college and university students and alumni here in District Dadu Sindh”
Rashid Anees Magsi, Project Manager, Mother of Civilization Library. Sindh, Pakistan


“Simply wanted to say thank you to Marietta for a book stimulating to the way I approach parenting, the way I personally will approach a philosophical quest, and the ways I can’t wait to explore all the wonderful resources of poetry, music and literature that are shared in this book. Well done and inspiring. I couldn’t wait to say thank you and work well done.”
Lisa Nichols Hickman. Pastor, Teacher, Author. New Wilmington, Pennsylvania


“This article (click here to read article) appeared in the Washington College Post about my son Jim’s philosophy work with some of his professors and hardcore prisoners at the Jessup Correctional Facility in Maryland . So many have commented since about the need to reach KIDS early–and I have you to thank for helping some of us at Park School do that. You’ll see in the text and pictures how much fun Jim has had with the prisoners. Seeds were sowed for Jim at war.”
Ellen Hoitsma, Park School, Baltimore, Maryland


“I just wanted to send on a note saying that Philosophy Club has gotten so big and popular that we are in a larger room now! Most of the 6th grade at my school is involved and they constantly request that we meet more than one time a week and even have an all-day Saturday session (not sure I’m ready for that!) … We are halfway through Courage at this point. Thanks again for this beautiful contribution to the future of this world with your work! These kids are eating it up!”
Amy Hunsaker, Intervention Specialist, North Baltimore, Ohio


“I would like to know if your book is going to be translated in Spanish any time soon? I have both of your books and I use them in my classes with children and with my group ‘Café Filosóficó’ held in Tijuana every monday night… Thanks.”
Ruben R. Félix, San Diego, California / Tijuana, Mexico


“I wanted to share a short story with you about one of my 6th graders. One day, the 6th graders were to brainstorm things to write about for an autobiography. I took three students into my (resource) room to get a little extra help. One child was having a particularly hard time coming up with things that meant a lot to her. I asked her about her friends and she said she has no friends and began to get teary. I can tell that this girl is a deep individual, just troubled with issues at home. I talked to her about how people like her that feel things very deeply can feel sadness more often than others but can also see great beauty where others would pass by. I then asked her why she wasn’t in Philosophy Club. She said there was a girl in the club that teases her. Another student piped up that ‘Mrs. Hunsaker doesn’t let anyone get teased in Philosophy Club’. She then said she didn’t have her permission slip signed. I told her to come anyway. At the end of the day, I got a call from her mom giving verbal permission for her to come to the club. After our first meeting, she came up and gave me a big hug.

Not long after, she came up to me all excited and said that she had asked her mom for Christmas to help her raise money for a needy classmate. This classmate is very troubled and often a bully with few friends but is also very obviously from a poor family. So her mom put it out on Facebook and the girl went around the (small) town and ended up collecting enough to buy the whole family coats, blankets, a huge Turkey dinner and even a Wii game console. She said that our discussions about friendship and justice had really hit home with her.

I have so rarely come across a 6th grader that selfless but I know that your book was a big (huge) part of her newfound self esteem.”
Amy Hunsaker, Intervention Specialist, North Baltimore, Ohio


“I just finished reading How Philosophy Can Save Your Life. I checked it out from my local library and was sad that I had to return it before I’d had time to finish. I checked it out the next day and truly enjoyed every minute reading your book seated at my kitchen table, my favorite spot. I have much to feel gratitude for when I sit there. I can hear wind chimes, and see blue sky, sunshine, and foothills. I can hear the laughter of my children in the next room. You might be able to tell my favorite chapter was Joy, with Empathy a close second. Your book sincerely spoke to me and my heart knows it as the truth. I search for words like yours constantly because I am very prone to getting caught up in the crazy busyness of being mom, wife, schoolteacher etc… I was thrilled to see that you have a book called Little Big Minds. I rarely pay for a book, (my friends endure my frugality 🙂 but I am sure I want to buy that one. Sometimes I am pretty hard on myself as a teacher. I see other teachers and am in awe of their skillfullness with the latest technology or their impressive statistics and graphs, but I know that my gifts are empathy and compassion. I feel so honored to be allowed to guide these seven and eight year olds as they discover how exciting education/school can be. I respect them and teach them to do the same for anyone they encounter, older or younger. I am so excited that I will be able to use Little Big Minds in my classroom. Thank you for such valuable books.

P.S. Another thing I rarely do is give books as gifts because I don’t want the recipient to feel obligated to read it, but in this case I can’t resist!”
Joan Hartigan, Thousand Oaks, California


“I am just beginning to use the book with my 6th graders…we have already had many, many fantastic conversations and the kids are thinking on their own about philosophy – bringing it up in math and even social studies. Thank you for putting together this idea into a very easy to use book – I can modify as I need and also add my own ideas.”
Sena Norton, Boring Middle School, Boring, Oregon


“I attended a brief workshop at the AIMS conference in Baltimore. I’d like to attend one of the two day workshops this summer and would love more info as soon as it is available. Thank you SO much! What a wonderful gift to both teachers and students! My students and I talked about death this past fall after reading a sad novel and watching a movie with a similar theme. The whole activity resonated with them and many, who were at first shy and quiet, came out of their shells and wanted to share! What good lessons to be discovered and shared!”
Tracy Alexander, Annapolis, Maryland


“Thank you for Little Big Minds! I have been having Philosophy Club with the 6th grade students every Thursday for this school year and they are really enjoying it. … Your book is so highlighted and underlined and dog-eared I may have to buy a new one! I also wanted to share with you that I have a few of my students with learning disabilities in the group – one from a severely economically depressed family, and they are really doing beautifully – it gives me hope. Thank you again for contributing such a valuable tool to education – philosophy is NEVER taught in public schools and is, in my opinion, one of the most important things to teach (and is as therapeutic for me as it is for the children). We may have hope for the future yet!”
Amy Hunsaker, Intervention Specialist, North Baltimore, Ohio


“I just finished the book and I must tell you it is a brilliant piece of work. You touched the child in my soul and reminded me that as an adult I realize how much intellectual playfulness must be a lifelong pursuit. … Thank you for re-educating me.”
Ronald J. Stupak, Walnut Creek, California


“I read Little Big Minds two years ago and loved it. … Although I have never studied philosophy as an academic, your book inspired me to try teaching a similar class here in my local community. … I designed lesson plans and got the green light from our principal. My class is called Big Ideas. I am now in my second year of teaching the class and have had to design a second class (Bigger Ideas!) for the kids who took it last year and wanted to have it again as an elective. … It is by far the most rewarding, joyful experience with kids I’ve ever had. It sounds a little goofy, but I literally feel like I’m walking on air when I finish the class each week. So, I would like to thank you for your wonderful book and the beautiful journey.”
Kathryn Tone, Annandale, Virginia / Heidleberg, Germany


“I had been waiting for a luxurious chunk of time to settle in and read ‘Little Big Minds’. A few nights ago I found another approach. My husband and I began treating ourselves, reading to each other from the happiness chapter after dinner. I am loving our time nurtured by your book!! Warm regards,”
Sallie Smithwick, Charlottesville, Virginia


“I am designing an environmental philosophy and ethics program for children based on LBM. I plan to use LBM as a template, covering many of the topics in the book but drawing on other philosophers, research and activities that help show how the way we think about these ideas affects the way we act in the world and therefore the world itself. Drawing out children’s feelings and ideas regarding the environment through dialogue will help them recognize what their intentions are and help them to act in a more intentional way. LBM is a perfect model of how we can explore our relationship to the world around us in a deeper way.”
Nina Schmidt, Flagstaff, Arizona


“I love philosophy because happiness is finding your center peace. I think it’s great.”
Tessa Moore, 3rd Grade Child Philosopher, Locust Grove, Virginia


“I LOVE philosophy because philosophy is questions, courage, peace, happiness, justice, and….AWESOMENESS!!!”
Abby Tharp, 3rd Grade Child Philosopher, Unionville, Virginia


“What’s cool about philosophy is you find what nobody knows about.”
Nick Nammack, 3rd Grade Child Philosopher, Locust Grove, Virginia


“I like philosophy because you can learn things like justice happiness and courage. You can imagine things you never imagined before.”
Lanija Brown, 3rd Grade Child Philosopher, Unionville, Virginia


“I like philosophy because it is about asking questions and answering them.”
Quinn Bradley, 3rd Grade Child Philosopher, Unionville, Virginia


“I focus on the behavior of high school, inner city children–who are full of anger, fear, and pain. If I could create a safe haven for them at school, I could alleviate some of their fears and they could just be themselves–disarmed and caring–less self-centered and peaceful. I have often said that we need a “peace” movement on campus. I just needed a starting point–you have given me that.”
Karen Lawrence, Principal, Heritage High School, Baltimore, Maryland


“This morning fifth graders came to tell third graders about some age-appropriate books they have read and are now selling at half-price. There may not be enough books to sell every third grader the book she wants. After the third graders checked off the titles of the books they would like to buy, I told them their teachers would decide how to handle the issue of distributing the available books fairly. Suddenly, I decided that rather than move on to the assignment I hand in mind, I would ask them how they thought the books could be distributed fairly. By gum, they were as quiet as mice as they suggested 6 possibilities and discussed how the concept of first come, first served is fair and not fair. Then I asked them to tell me what fairness is. Four terrific definitions of fairness came up from this group. It was wonderful.”
Susan Mills, Bryn Mawr School, Baltimore, Maryland


“The Marblehead Public schools has begun to design and implement a K-12 Philosophy curriculum, with [Little Big Minds] at the founding document for grades K-6! We have a ‘book group’ of 20+ teachers beginning in March that will read and discuss your book, and create curriculum together. The development of a Philosophy curriculum is one piece of an overall district goal to emphasize creative problem solving skills that honors multiple perspectives. I have piloted the effort myself with a group of 4th graders. I am surprised at how little I need to speak before the conversational ball gets rolling with the contributions of the kids! I look forward to a continuing adventure with students and teachers, with your book as a compass!”
Michael Hanna, Curriculum Director, K-12 Philosophy, Marblehead, Massachusetts


“What a wonderful book you have written! I’m still not finished and I’m thinking wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such a class for my children.”
Rose Kudlac, Toronto, Canada


“I’m patiently awaiting a spanish translation of Little Big Minds por favor.”
Kristen Brooking, Senorita, Chile


“We are using your book in our 5th grade classroom, and are amazed by the level of thinking that our students exhibit during our philosophy discussions. Today, Philosophy Thursday, we will play Haydn’s Symphony #22, ask the children to draw, then follow up with the question: ‘What does it mean to be a good student?’
‘Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.’ Yeats, I think. Thank you for igniting the passion for teaching, learning, and reflecting within us all.”
Kate Rizzi & Kristin Peck, Teachers, Norwood School, Bethesda, Maryland


“You’ve really contributed something of immense importance. I gave your book to a student of mine who is going to be a high school counselor. She’s writing a senior thesis on philosophical counseling, and the ways in which critical thinking can make our lives richer and more rewarding. She loved your book, by the way — as did I! Keep on rockin’!”
Dr. J. Jeremy Wisnewski, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York


“Little Big Minds makes such human sense. How it leads us to that common vein, that central hope for peace through clear thinking. How it speaks to us with myriad voices. How it values, contemplates, and heeds our children. How invigorating. You are brilliant.”
Lisa Stockwell, Mother, Teacher, Artist, Charlottesville, Virginia


“Wow! I am amazed and in wonder of Marietta McCarty and her book, Little Big Minds . As the mother of three growing children (13, 9 and 7) there is so much to be mined from this book for my family and I hope to spread the word to others in my community.
Thanks so much.
By the way, I love her first name!”
Marietta Nelson-Bittle, Chesapeake, Virginia


“So often children are told what to think which binds their intellectual and creative growth. Philosophical exercises open children’s minds and allow their consciences to blossom. I am so grateful for your offering to the world with this wonderful book. As a mother, artist, and student of philosophy myself, I will use your book to guide me as I begin my new endeavor of starting up philosophy clubs for children. This book is a fantastic resource for all teachers. I especially encourage art teachers to use this book to stretch the creative potential of their students.”
Teresa Romano, Mother, Delray Beach, Florida


“I recently met you at the University of Virginia/Summer Enrichment Program. I greatly appreciate our teacher asking you to come. When I showed my mom your autograph she got tears in her eyes. I hope that I can stay in contact with you. You are a wonderful person. I am from Winchester, Virginia , and plan to order your book tomorrow. Even though it is a book for adults to teach to children. I believe that I can set myself to the bar and teach myself all of your great words of wisdom.”
Sarah, Winchester, Virginia


“Let me start by saying that I enjoyed hearing your interview several weeks ago on the Diane Rehm Show. Rather than present the fairly typical questions like ‘Should I eat meat?’, ‘Is time travel possible?’, or ‘Could a machine think?’, I love the way you have divided your book up into what we should all consider to be the coordinates on our compass.”
Alexa Kantgias, The Montessori School, Wilton, Connecticut


“I’m so happy for your success with the book. And it makes me optimistic about America that it’s caught on so well!”
Julie Gottschalk


“I run an office in Beijing with 105 employees. I had the idea of buying a Chinese copy of the book for each of the staff members that have had a baby this year. My ‘between the lines’ message to the staff is that I want them to balance their professional and personal lives. The most important and most noble work that many of them will do is to raise their child well. The young Chinese engineers have a work ethic similar to what I saw in the US tech boom. They work very hard and tend to put their work and career first. I have seen how putting work first is bad for families, individuals, and for the company. Trying to stay human in a boom has its challenges. I wish you had been teaching philosophy when I was in kindergarten and college.”
Steve Beatrous, Fan from North Carolina


“I teach a philosophy course on Theory of Knowledge at King High School in Tampa, Florida. Although my students are a bit older than the ones who are the focus of your book, I still find most of what you have to say very relevant to my situation. For most of my students, this course is their first formal encounter with philosophy and it’s extremely important that the experience be a positive one for them. So my goal is to have them do philosophy rather than study it.
The age of the students I teach is about the age of many if not most of the interlocutors of Socrates in Plato’s Dialogues, those whose minds he was accused of corrupting. Quite to the contrary, I agree with you and Socrates that young minds are among the best and ripest for philosophical thought and discourse, being relatively uncluttered by bias and prejudice and more open to new and different ideas.
As I read through your book, I plan to implement or modify those strategies which seem most appropriate for our situation. Overall at this point I am entirely in agreement with your philosophy and approach of introducing young minds to philosophy. Thanks for giving us this great resource.”
Michael Urbas, King High School, Tampa, FL


“Despite the old saying ‘You cannot judge a book by its cover,’ the reader will immediately be attracted to Little Big Minds because of its appearance. The child on the front captivates your attention; the Greek writing on the authentic chalkboard tempts you to decipher what’s inside; and delving into all the pages between the cover results in a quest to know more, do more, BE more. The book is quite literally a how-to on teaching philosophy. It is filled with discussion questions, resources, exercises, teaching tips and suggestions, and is structured very much like a well-written lesson plan. The content of the book, the anecdotes sprinkled throughout the text, and the sheer passion with which this book was written is truly an inspiration to the reader. Perhaps what is most striking is that talking about philosophy, teaching philosophy, and practicing philosophy can truly shape or even change our everyday lives; Little Big Minds shows us exactly how to make it happen. Quite simply, this book inspires; it is a must-have; it grabs your attention from the moment you see it and leaves you thinking about it long after you have finished reading it.”
Anne Carter, Charlottesville, Virginia


“I’m an Episcopal priest in a small parish in Northern Indiana, finishing an MA/Ed S in school psychology at Andrews University. I’d like to start a “Philosophy Club” in the local middle school. I believe middle-schoolers are ripe developmentally, cognitively and socially to tackle these ‘questions of ultimate meaning’ before they enter high school, when they must make serious and far-reaching decisions regarding their future.”
Father Richard Wineland, St John of the Cross Episcopal Church, Bristol, Indiana


“I bought the book yesterday and how beautifully written it is. It would be a good book for any age, I think, not just children. It might even be helpful for people just to do the book as exercises themselves, senior citizens too as a way of reflection. It is many, many cuts above most books today, I think because of the integration of so many sources, resources, disciplines, philosophers, and everyday life.”
Kathy Hudson, Baltimore, Maryland


“I have really enjoyed [Little Big Minds] and wish I had it when I was raising my kids – not too late with my grandchildren, though. Thanks and congratulations.”
Louise Wawner, Charlottesville, Virginia


“I was thrilled to hear you on NPR talking about the importance of exposing children and youth to Philosophy! I serve as Board President for a small non-profit organization in Rochester, NY that is working in partnership with our largest local school district to develop an alternative educational setting. Our program model is standards-based arts & technology integration with an emphasis on literacy, critical thinking skills, and recognizing interdisciplinary connectivity. It is my hope that we may engage young people in meaningful dialogue about eternal questions so that they won’t have to feel disconnected and alone the way I did as a child.”
“I have now read most of your book and it’s truly wonderful! The resources and suggested questions will be invaluable for curriculum development for our school program and other ArtPeace projects. I am truly grateful for the gift of your book and know that it will have a profound effect on “little big minds” of all ages!”
Sara R. Hughes, ArtPeace, Inc., Rochester, New York


“Your handsome book arrived on my desk a few weeks ago, and certainly brought back many pleasant memories of your college days in my classes at Hollins. I admired you then, too, for your passion and talent for philosophy. But now there is this wonderful book! It looks splendid, and reads beautifully. This resource is going to be indispensable.”
Lawrence C. Becker, Fellow of Hollins University, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, College of William & Mary


“I love your approach with children! You have captured the essence of what I believe is ‘real’ education for kids. Congratulations on your great book.”
Janis Johnston, Ed.D., Family Psychologist, Oak Park, Illinois


“Love the myth of the cave and ‘response’ ability. Thank you. Can’t wait to buy the book!”
Cinda Amen


“Thank you for your wonderful interview on With Good Reason.
Thank you for the work you are doing with children (and adults).
A ray of light!”
Charles Birx


“Heard you yesterday on With Good Reason, and, let me just say, you are right. Philosophy is not to be taught in abstract or in the absence of any good vocab lesson. It IS the lesson. all else flows from there. My students, this year in particular, are so ready to hear what I have to say about how to think and how to be. And they give me such good effort in return for my merely sharing my thoughts with them. They get it, of course, more than we do because their lives have been so complex for so long that they’ve been wondering how to put it all together given what most adults tell them. Worked with my children too. We talked/talk about ideas.”
Kathryn Zentgraf, Teacher,Charlottesville, Virginia


“I am a 4th grade teacher at the Charles E Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland. A couple of weeks ago I picked up your book and I have not been able to put it down. Last week I taught my kids the Allegory of the Cave and an Emily Dickinson poem. I really never thought I could ever do something like that and have it work so well. The kids love it and participate a lot more. This week we are going to be covering the unit on justice and we will be connecting that to our unit on slavery and The Civil War. In the justice chapter it talks about having a conversation about poverty with kids coming from mixed income families. In my community a large majority of the children come from a higher socioeconomic base and barely recognize what the word “poor” means. I want to make sure I ask the right questions of myself and of my students. Your book is fantastic.”
Elana Divine, Teacher, Rockville, Maryland


“Congratulations on a wonderful book! I am very impressed. I hope you sell many books, but no matter how many are sold, you have undoubtedly changed many lives.”
Barbara Shelton, Birmingham, Alabama


“The statement, ‘Children of all ages are willing to work with a grown-up who has faith in their abilities and trusts them’ (xiii), fairly leapt off the page and grabbed me by the jugular. So true, yet where are these adults? I worry… and search for those folk as truly interested in children as you and I seem to be. I see that expressing “faith in (their) abilities and trust(s)” also applies to adult engagement. Even though [adults] can type and sometimes spell better, their true ideas lie very deep inside with multiple moats surrounding their shape and design.”
B.A. Stefany, Owner & Consultant, The Sabens Group, Jamesville, New York


“I have been using your book to start a philosophy club at the Little Keswick School. I really like the structure and how to nature of you book. Good Show!”
Gene Lemarr, Little Keswick School, Keswick, Virginia


“As a former student of philosophy at Boston University, and for a lifetime since, I have always felt that philosophy should be taught at an early age, and the world would be a much better place for it, too. Ms. McCarty not only does that, but also shows how ready and willing the kids are for it. Bravo!”
Penn Butler