We have introduced Philosophy for Children (P4C) into our whole school curriculum, which runs as a weekly lesson where the children discuss philosophical questions as a group. We are using this approach to teaching and learning to encourage critical thinking, communication and collaboration. It is built on three principles:
– children tackle profound philosophical questions
– children take leadership of the lesson
– children learn respect and resilience to challenge other opinions.
P4C uses a facilitative pedagogical model where the teacher’s role is to encourage questioning and thinking. It deals with topics where there is no single ‘right’ answer. All children have an equal voice and, provided they give sound reasons, all views can be expressed.
We provide the children with a stimulus, such as a story, children are encouraged to ask their own questions. The whole group then decides (e.g. by voting) which question they would most like to discuss. We give our children time to think and reason individually about the chosen question before exchanging ideas and opinions as a group – a community of enquiry.
Through discussing their questions children learn to listen carefully, to explore differences of opinion respectfully and to value the ideas of others. Regular P4C sessions help children to build their self-confidence and increase their willingness to participate, especially those who start with lower levels of self-esteem. As P4C uses a mainly verbal approach it is particularly motivating for children who struggle with writing. We do this through class discussions which develops:
– cognitive ability
– increasing confidence, self-esteem, reflection, respect for others and feelings of inclusion
– improves social skills (including listening and speaking skills, being able to disagree respectfully and strengthened relationships)
– develops critical thinking skills (demonstrated through pupils’ increased questioning and discussion, and expressing a range of perspectives)
– helps build resilience to extremism (enabling pupils to learn how to listen to other people’s opinions and respond respectfully when these differ to their own)
– P4C also gives pupils a safe environment to discuss challenging topics