Life Is Good

 Posted by on 19 May 2003 at 6:44 pm  Uncategorized
May 192003

I just turned in my last set of lessons for Camp Indecon. Hooray!

For those of you who have no idea what that means, last summer I took on the task of developing the curriculum for Camp Indecon’s 17 year olds. (The camp was expanded to include that age group this year.) I’ll also be teaching my curriculum at camp this summer.

As a bit of background, Camp Indecon is a week-long summer camp (held from July 19th to July 26th in Woodland Park, Colorado) that teaches kids practical, rational philosophy and life skills using the Montessori method. Here’s what the web site says about its philosophy:

If we don’t formally teach our children how to think, society will teach them not to.

The staff of Camp Indecon has created a curriculum to formally teach children how to think for themselves and be responsible for their decisions based on their nature as human beings.

Our campers learn the skills of independent thinking through the Montessori Method of Education, which stresses following life’s natural path of development and maintains that (i) anything presented to a child should meet his/her developmental needs at the time, (ii) each child’s own pace and style of learning should be followed, and (iii) the child should be free to choose his/her own work within the limits and structure of the program.

Montessori’s emphasis is the child’s preparation for life, not just the exam. By considering the whole child’s development and individual interests and personality, it fosters independence, self-direction, self-discipline and self-motivation while providing superior preparation in academic areas.

For our campers, increased self-confidence is the natural outcome of recognizing that they are capable of creating their own life plans. Through hands-on activities, they learn about the nature of the world, especially their own nature as human beings. Through working examples, they discover the consequences of listening to peers with incorrect thinking habits and witness the positive results of healthy ones.

I was only able to attend Camp Indecon for two days last summer, but I got to witness each of the sections (9-10, 11-12, 13-14, and 15-16 year olds) in at least one of their two daily hour-long lessons. There’s not much that’s cooler than watching 9 and 10 year olds understanding what a self-fulfilling prophecy is, 11 and 12 year olds learning why its important to have a plan in life, 13 and 14 year olds constructing an ideal society, and 15 and 16 year olds struggling to develop definitions and learning about logical fallacies.

My lessons for the 17 year olds are:

  • Speak Your Mind: The basic skills of public speaking.

  • We’re All Philosophers: The nature and importance of philosophy to everyday life.
  • Two Methods: How to effectively use the methods of evaluation and integration to judge ideas.
  • Uncommon Sense: The ways in which glittering generalities and confirmation bias distort our reasoning.
  • Influence I: The ways in which the principles of reciprocation, consistency, and social proof can influence our actions.
  • Influence II: The ways in which the principles of liking, authority, and scarcity can influence our actions.
  • Mining Philosophy: The various sources of philosophical ideas, including culture, art, and religion.
  • Motivating Action: The practical differences between a duty-driven and goal-directed approach to life.
  • Guiding Action: The role of rules and principles in everyday decisions.
  • Second Nature Virtue: The importance of making virtue second nature through moral habits.
  • Defining Your Politics: Using The World’s Smallest Political Quiz to define (and then defend) political views.

There’s also a lesson on money management… rightfully taught by a professional rather than a philosopher!

Last I heard, there was still space in my section. So if you know of any intellectually-minded high school seniors, send them to! I’m not sure how full the other sections of the camp are, but you can always inquire!

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