“Big Ideas by Little Philosophers” (BiLP) – Winter 2019-2020

“Big Ideas by Little Philosophers” (BiLP) is a dynamic, philosophy-inspired television-classroom series designed to help youth share their big ideas with the world.  A collaborative venture with Helena Civic Television and Cottonwood School, the program combines classroom and one-on-one mentorship, pedagogy, philosophy, and theater.  A mash-up of Mr. Rogers, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and Socrates, the BiLP program aims to highlight the joy and fun of doing philosophy and the rich philosophical terrain available to and present in our youth.

About Our Winter “Film & Philosophy” Project

During our Winter session we continued our journey into the world of film & philosophy via the Twilight ZoneOur young thinkers split into two groups — with one group focusing their efforts on a philosophical piece exploring time travel, consciousness, and environmental justice and another group focusing their sights on a piece about time travel and racial injustice. 

Each meeting day, students worked out their film ideas through a series of storyboarding, idea vetting, and creative brainstorm sessions. (Here is a link to our Fall studio visit to Helena Civic Television, where the kids talked about the Twilight Zone and their film plans.)

  • The goal = producing a film (inspired by their work in the Fall semester and observations about the world) that developed timeless philosophical issues and revealed the moral of their stories in clever, Twilight Zone-esque ways.

Filming began….and the kids were on their way.  But then….(as if in our own modern day Twilight Zone)…COVID-19 hit. 

The Altered Winter “Film & Philosophy” Project

Everything came to a screeching halt.  Schools, businesses, restaurants, libraries, and more shut down.   Meeting in person was no longer an option.  Now what? Instead of throwing in the towel…our young philosophers at Cottonwood ALC opted to take on COVID-19 in a manner that would make Rod Serling & Socrates proudTheir adaptability, creativity, and resilience was inspiring!


Here is how they adapted, making COVID a matter of philosophical investigation, as and THE DIMENSIONS they explored (at home and via ZOOM).

    • Our young philosophers learned about COVID-19 and other pandemics from a philosophical & historical perspective.  Projects involved reading, viewing, reflection, response & discussion.  
    • With the context provided from Dimension 1, in Dimension 2 our young thinkers watched a COVID-19 inspired movie and responded to various philosophical questions raised throughout.  They then had a group discussion about these via ZOOM.
    • In Dimension 3, each of our young philosophers, took on the challenge of writing a Twilight Zone meets COVID-19 monologue.  The monologues involved responses from our first two dimension activities and personal reflection on our current situation.
    • In this dimension, our young philosophers filmed their Twilight Zone meets COVID-19 monologues (at home) and submitted them for a virtual showcase viewing, where students answered questions about their films by community members in ZOOM breakout rooms.  

Featured Films

A philosophy & Twilight Zone-inspired short film by Lotus Porte-Moyel that looks at COVID-19 and raises questions about freedom, responsibility, rights, values, choices and consequences.

A philosophy and Twilight Zone-inspired short film by Liam Aagenes about COVID-19 that raises questions about belief & perception, truth & reason, action/inaction, time travel, science, and media.

A philosophy and Twilight Zone-inspired film by Will Menden about COVID-19 that raises questions about technology, human relationships, inner/out worlds, societal and economic structure, and truth and reality.

Thank You’s

Thank you to Cottonwood ALC & Helena Civic Television for embarking on this fun journey with us & to Philosophy Learning & Teaching Organization and Humanities Montana for helping to fund our 2019-2020 Winter BiLP program!

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