“Use knowledge in life giving ways.”

If you could have a ‘favourite’ Habits of Heart – I am thinking this one – Be Wise – would be high on my list.

(Maybe ask your students to think about which Habit of Heart is resonating with them as you begin your lesson.)

“Philosophy in the Classroom” by Ron Shaw (Curriculum Corporation) is a book I have had on my desk possibly for 15 years! (Thank you to a brilliant colleague at Canberra Grammar School.) It is a great resource. It is designed to foster robust and deep conversations about philosophical and ethical issues, using Aesop’s Fables as the provocation. It has chapters on themes such as Happiness, Kindness, Friendship and of course – Wisdom.

Studying philosophy sits well with the Anglican Shared Syllabus. In the Strand, ‘Thinking About Religion’, students are encouraged to explore theological and philosophical questions about religion and faith, seeking logical and rational answers.

Perhaps you might enjoy using the chapter on Wisdom as part of your “Thinking About Religion” topic.

Begin by reading The Ant and the Grasshopper (printed in the book Philosophy in the Classroom) to your students or find an age appropriate video on YouTube.

Use “Philosophy in the Classroom” to engage your students in a deep discussion about Wisdom. There are questions about The Ant and the Grasshopper listed in the book and they include:-

  • Some people say it is better to live for now (the present) and not to worry about the future. What are your thoughts on this?
  • Do you think it is possible to think about and plan for the future too much?
  • Do you think that planning for the future requires sacrifices to be made? Justify your answer by giving an example or two?
  • Most would agree that by planning for the future the Ant shows more wisdom than the Grasshopper. Can a person who doesn’t plan for the future be considered wise?
  • Does being wise always mean doing your best?
  • If there are two wise people, can one be wiser than the other?
  • Is wisdom more about knowledge or decision making?
  • Can a child have more wisdom than an elderly person?

In the book, there is also a list of traditional proverbs to discuss with your students.

“A teacher is better than two books.” – German Proverb

“Better to ask twice than to lose your way once.”– Danish Proverb

“A gram of wisdom is worth more than a kilogram of gold.” – English Proverb

When you have explored the concept of Wisdom and proverbs, introduce the Book of Proverbs in the Bible. There are so many great Proverbs in the Bible that you could discuss with your students. Discuss what the Bible says about Wisdom.

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” Proverbs 10:11

Ron Shaw suggests using this topic for a class debate. “More wisdom can be gained from books than from day-to-day living.” Why not change it a little and try – “More wisdom can be gained from the Bible than from day-to-day living.”

Perhaps ask questions such as – “Is it better to be wise or wealthy?” What do you think Jesus would say?

This is a fabulous way to stimulate deep philosophical reflection and questioning in your classes, as you explicitly reinforce such attitudes as mutual respect, cooperation, trust, care and respect. In addition, you will be providing your students with the critical thinking skills of inquiry. Teaching Wisdom can lead to great personal growth, ethical awareness and the development of thoughtful, articulate students. You will find that one of the great benefits of philosophy is that it fosters a collaborative, cooperative classroom where effective communication abounds.  And it is great fun for the teacher and the students!