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New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education's Blog

What's the Story? 

Making the world a better place for gifted kids, one yarn at a time.


Frogs, Giants and Winter Philosophy

Empowering Kids to Change the World



Winter. It’s officially here in the Southern Hemisphere. Time to rug up with a steaming cup of soup, and snuggle down next to the fire, heater, or perhaps the next best thing - a video of a fire playing on your phone. This is a chance to slow down, take a breath, and spend time with loved ones ... engaging in some deep, philosophical debates! Oh, did I say slow down? I didn’t necessarily mean your thinking.

David Bouchier (2015) suggests that “if there is any positive benefit to be had out of winter it is benefit of a purely philosophical kind. That is to say that winter, which is so unpleasant physically, may have something to teach us intellectually.” He goes on to suggest that this includes that “winter reminds us we are living in the wrong place” in relation to the scientific views on historical civilisations being in the warmer African climates, going on to explore our casual language as a betrayal of our dislike for winter (think “chill out!” and “icy looks”), even with the options available to undertake enjoyable winter activities, and given our ability to move around the globe to escape the cold harshness of winter.

But I would like to offer you more than this: the intellectual opportunity, in the midst of biting, blustery, cold winds, swirling snow, and icy threads of rain, to learn, while snuggled in the warmth of your own home, reading this year’s array of compelling blogs in the 2018 New Zealand Gifted Awareness Blog Tour. Yes! That’s right! It’s that time of year again, and in this tour, we are celebrating ‘Gifted Aotearoa,’ with Brooke Trenwith co-ordinating the tour on behalf of the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education.

Over the years we have had many thoughtful, provocative, sincere, and moving blog posts, celebrating all that is giftedness. You can check out the 2017 blogs here and those from 2016 here. So, as we gear up for this year’s impending tour, let’s get our ‘brains on’ with a little philosophy about philosophy, aka metaphilosophy - in case you were wondering.



Here’s a fun way to get the family involved. Gather round your computer to play the interactive philosophy game, ‘Castle, Forest, Island, Sea’. By the end, you will be able to see a map of how your philosophical thinking shifted throughout the game. Have fun discussing the options and coming up with a game plan!

Hank Green talks in the video above, about the two steps in philosophical thinking. See if you recognise these from your game above. He makes it sound really easy, and it can be, yet it can also be delightfully complex, as I am sure you are aware! The beauty of this is that philosophical thinking is for all ages - in fact, many of our gifted kids are natural philosophers with their incessant “why?” and arguing, ah-hem ... I mean ... reasoning.

Step One: Try to understand through exploring an idea to its fullest.

Step Two: Critically think about the views you and others have about this idea.



Here’s an example of a picture book to incite philosophical inquiry in young people. In this instance, the story Dragons and Giants, from Frog and Toad Together, is used as a basis to explore ideas relating to what it looks like to be brave, and how we define bravery and courage. Watch the video and have fun discussing the ideas that come up through the story. Thanks to Jana Mohr for bringing this to my attention through her video, ‘Raising a Philosophical Child.’

Looking more deeply into philosophy, there are, as Hank talks about, three main branches: metaphysics, studies into the nature of reality; epistemology, the nature and scope of thinking; and value theory, which covers both ethics (ideas of right, wrong, good versus bad) and aesthetics (what is beauty and does it really exist?).

An example of value theory explored within the New Zealand education context is the research carried out by Kevin Kanna (2010, 2018), who has been exploring the ethical aspects of philosophy with a specific focus on Māori spirituality - which he notes, is often referred to as ‘Māori philosophy’ - and more broadly, spiritual giftedness, the sense of a greater connection. Fraser (2011) elaborates further on the idea of spiritual giftedness; what this can look and feel like, and how we can support our spiritually gifted youngsters, for instance, those who have the strong need to change the world for the better.

What better way to equip these kids on a mission than with the skills of philosophy as a means of thinking about the world and its many possibilities garnered through questioning and the use of different lenses. I love that the development of these skills is naturally woven into the daily learning programmes offered by the New Zealand Centre for Education.


For those who are keen to explore a little further, here are some other great links that come highly recommended. They include a game, comic, video, philosophy programme and other free resources, so a nice range. What others would you add to the list?



Now that you are all warmed up again and in thinking mode - get ready to participate in this June’s 2018 New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour #NZGAW. Follow @NZCGE on Facebook to receive the posts as they are shared, or jump onto to access the blog tour page. If you would like to contribute a blog to the tour, please email Brooke

'What's the Story?' is a new blog section which is being written for the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education, with posts being added regularly. The purpose of this space is to share musings and anecdotes relating to giftedness and gifted education to provide a form of information and support for those living with and/or teaching gifted learners. Please do share them along.


We would love to hear from you.  Grab a virtual cuppa and share your story in the comments.

What's the Story? Making the world a better place for gifted kids, one yarn at a time.


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Please note that the views expressed in these blogs are those of the author and not necessarily representative of the views of the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education.

 Image credit: Snowflake by Maf04 is licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0. The image has been modified.


Frogs, Giants and Winter Philosophy

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