Integrating Philosophy into Literacy: Discussing Japanese American Incarceration

Johnna Hauck, 5th Grade, Devonshire Elementary School

Curriculum Unit (PDF)


In this unit, students will learn about Japanese-American incarceration through a series of lessons that incorporate both philosophy and literacy in order to answer the questions: “Do you feel responsible to act in situations of injustice? Why or why not? What actions can you take to change discrimination towards others in situations of injustice?”.
The texts incorporated throughout these lessons allow students to engage with 5th grade literacy standards, but also lend themselves to philosophical questions and discussions about ethics. Students learn about Japanese-American Incarceration from both nonfiction and historical fiction texts, giving students both historical knowledge about Japanese-American incarceration as well as a more personal account. Philosophical questions are embedded throughout the unit in order to spark interest, engagement, and reflection on the part of students. Philosophical conversations drive most lessons forward, and encourage students to question their beliefs, actions taken throughout history, and events taking place in the world today. These content areas are intertwined throughout the unit with one overarching goal – to encourage students to critically examine history and it’s context so that we can identify and avoid similar events in the future.