So Few of Me
Book Module Navigation
This story raises questions about the value of productivity vs. free time and also about the nature of identity.
Leo works hard to get things done. But Leo encounters a problem: no matter how hard he works to get things done, he always finds more things to do! He decides it might be easier to enlist the help of more Leos to help him. The work keeps growing and two Leos quickly progress to ten Leos with a never-ending amount of work. He finally decides to take a nap and has a dream. Leo finally decides that he is content with just one of him, so he can have time to dream.
Read aloud video by Rutherford County Schools
Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion
So Few of Me fosters philosophical questions in the areas of social philosophy and metaphysics.
Children today have an expectation from their parents and teachers that they need to participate in several extracurricular activities in order to become more well-rounded individuals and to build their resumes for future college applications. As a result, they are often busier than adults, with fully booked up schedules and little or no free time. Asking questions about why we have to do certain things, and what those “things” should be, explores concepts of social philosophy in a timely context.
So Few of Me provides an opportunity to ask the children about why we feel pressured to do multiple activities and who does the pressuring. Some children might feel that they want to participate in activities because of enjoyment. Others might feel like their parents or teachers make them do activities they don’t like. Connecting these scenarios to the book by asking the children whether they think adding more tasks would be better or worse to their ability to complete them will cause the children to think about their agency in their own life and who is controlling it.
Social philosophy explores concepts of work and leisure and how they compare in society. Socialist Karl Marx felt that it was important to minimize work in order to have more free time for leisure and creative activity. Other philosophers have criticized Marx for having a romantic and unrealistic view. They believe that work is more important for individual and societal purpose. The use of Leo’s dreaming as an example–and how it is affected by too many tasks–is a great way to ask the children their thoughts about work and leisure and the inevitable trade-off between the two. Questioning whether dreaming is more or less important than accomplishing tasks will promote thoughts and discussion about leisure. Forcing the children to think about why we are sometimes told to stop dreaming and do “more important” things gets at the root of social philosophy and the importance of examining why society is structured the way it is, and how it might be improved.
Metaphysics deals with personal identity and what properties make a person. Leo wished for more Leos to help with all the tasks. When there are ten Leos, it’s hard to differentiate the original Leo from the others. This will foster debate over whether the other Leos were identical to Leo or distinct creatures from the original Leo. Asking questions about who Leo is will force the children to think about who they are. Do they feel there is a voice inside their head telling them they should be doing something? If so, who is that voice? The questions in this section attempt to facilitate thoughts on what makes a person a person.
Questions for Philosophical Discussion
Leo felt pressure to get things done, but the tasks never ended.
- Why did Leo feel like he had to finish all the tasks?
- Why do people make lists? Have you ever made a list? Did it help?
- Why do you think there was a never-ending supply of things for the Leos to do?
- Do your parents and teachers ask you to do things like chores and homework? Do you feel like you have to do them? Why?
- Do you think adding more of you would help you get chores done or just create more work to be done? Why or why not?
- Do the chores and homework interfere with your ability to do other things you like to do? How do you balance these competing demands?
- Is it better to do something really well or a lot of things not as well?
Leo wanted less time to do tasks and more time to dream. He decided just doing his best was enough.
- Do you think Leo should have put “dreaming” on his to-do list? Why or why not?
- Do you agree or disagree with the other Leos for yelling at the original Leo for dreaming?
- Is dreaming more or less important than doing chores and activities? Why or why not?
- Have you ever gotten in trouble for “day-dreaming” in class? If so, why?
- Do you think you should be allowed “free time,” a time in which you don’t have to do anything? Why or why not?
- If you made a to-do list, would you put “free time” on it? Why or why not?
Leo wanted the ten other Leos to disappear. He wanted more time to dream and decided doing his best was enough.
- Are the other Leos exact copies of the original Leo? Why or why not?
- Who is the real Leo? How can you tell which Leo is which?
- If all the Leos are doing different things at the same time (one playing soccer and one playing violin) are they different people? Why or why not?
- Do you have a voice in your head telling you you need to do things? If so, who is it? Why?
Original questions and guidelines for philosophical discussion by Kate Doyle. Edited June 2020 by The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics.
Find tips for leading a philosophical discussion on our Resources page.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.