How might society benefit if children were recognized as independent thinkers, capable of seeing clearly and contributing in valuable ways to our world? How would children’s lives change if what they said was not often ignored or patronized?
In a series of conversations with children about many of life’s important philosophical questions, Seen and Not Heard reveals children as perceptive and original thinkers. Guided by discussions about the meaning of childhood, friendship, justice and fairness, happiness, and death, the book invites us to rethink our beliefs about children and become more receptive to the ways we can learn from them.
Jana Mohr Lone is director of the Center for Philosophy for Children and affiliate associate professor of philosophy at the University of Washington, and author of The Philosophical Child, co-author of Philosophy in Education: Questioning and Dialogue in Schools, and co-editor of Philosophy and Education: Introducing Philosophy to Young People.
1. Not Heard
4. Political Voices
Seen and Not Heard is organized into an introduction and seven chapters (Not heard, Childhood, Friendship, Political voices, Happiness, Death, and Listening1). Epistemic justice, or its lack, is just one of the themes that I think the reader will internalize as they read Lone's work of praxis. The reader will also appreciate the breadth and depth of Jana Mohr Lone's reading. It is inspiring without being intimidating.
At once a testament to children’s thoughtfulness and a passionate argument for honouring their agency as knowers, Lone’s book promises to appeal to a large audience. Educators should be inspired by children’s ability to tackle complex issues and may decide to integrate more intellectual discussions in their teaching as a result.
In its in-depth chapters, her book demonstrates that children can formulate innovative principles that lead to original ideas and solutions that can be used, in my opinion, on a national or international level to respond to questions that are generally only addressed by adults, scientists, academics, and technology experts.
Evoking the old saying that ‘children should be seen and not heard’, Jana Mohr Lone’s new book presents a powerful case for not merely hearing—but more, for listeningto - children.
American society tends to stereotype children based on developmental preconceptions. These societal norms create a disadvantage for children, according to which they are not perceived as independent thinkers. Mohr Lone presents the prospect of children's capacity for metacognition in this must-read volume for practitioners and scholars in the field of child development. Based on 25 years of research, Mohr Lone records conversations with elementary-school children between the ages of 5 and 12. Topics range from the meaning of emotions to friendship, political issues, and even death, as the book effectively illustrates and compares thought from philosophy, sociology, psychology, and educational theory. Each chapter opens with a thoughtful quote from a notable children's author, scholar, or proverb. Throughout, Mohr Lone explores the possibility of children as valuable contributors to society and calls for an appreciation of children's perceptions to advocate for the "best possible educational structures and environments" (p. 23). This book profoundly declares how reciprocal respect can exist between adults and children, enabling each group to learn from the other. Highly recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals.
A beautiful book about the ways that children think and speak of important matters such as friendship, justice, happiness, childhood, and death. Their words illuminate a text that parents and teachers will treasure all the more in this time of loss and grieving.... A stirring and important book, which should be widely read.
Seen and Not Heard is a wonderful book because philosopher Jana Mohr Lone listens carefully to children as they discuss some of life's most important experiences---the meaning of friendship, trust, and being oneself or an outsider---that reveal not only themes of timeless importance but often wisdom from their youthful perspectives.
Seen and Not Heard is profound, rich, and provocative. It demonstrates that, as much as adults and often more so, children are subtle, complex, and diverse philosophical thinkers. It opens a window to a wide field of children’s ideas about being, imagination, friendship, justice, ethics, gender, happiness, death, and much else. A better argument is hard to imagine for the importance of listening to children, for children’s own sakes as well as for doing better philosophy.
No one has ever listened more intently to the voices of children than Jana Mohr Lone. Seen and Not Heard will convince anyone who has ever doubted that children are capable of sophisticated and profound thinking, and that all of us have much to learn from listening to them.
Not since Gareth Matthews has a philosopher provided so direct and lucid an account of children’s philosophical thinking on topics so central to human experience—and of why their thinking should matter to the rest of us.
You will want to listen to the children in your life once you read Seen and Not Heard. Conversant in the latest philosophical, psychological, and sociological research on childhood, Jana Mohr Lone has written a book that is inviting, intimate, and readable. She weaves an impressionistic account of children’s thoughts on friendship, happiness, fairness and death with considerations of these philosophical topics in literature, history, and culture.
Seen and Not Heard is a wonderful exploration of how conversations with children can be philosophical, thoughtful and thought-provoking and an opportunity for genuine dialogue. Jana Mohr Lone convincingly demonstrates that young voices are worth attending to, by drawing upon works of literature, philosophical texts, and real conversations she has had with young thinkers. Beautifully written and lucidly argued, this book will be enjoyed by all.
American Philosophical Association Blog interview: https://blog.apaonline.org/2021/08/13/recently-published-book-seen-and-not-heard/
New Books in Philosophy Podcast Interview: https://newbooksnetwork.com/seen-and-not-heard
Examining Ethics Podcast Interview: https://examiningethics.org/2022/02/seen-and-not-heard-jana-mohr-lone/