Philosophy for Children (P4C) is a powerful approach that boosts children's thinking and learning skills. A trained teacher introduces stimulus material to a class of children and asks them what issues or thoughts come to mind. The children discuss their responses and create philosophical questions from which they choose one that they want to discuss.
Example questions might be 'Should you follow the rules or do what you think is right?' or “Is it possible to have a fair race?”
The children discuss this question in a community of enquiry, in which they learn the skills of dialogue, expressing their views, responding to and challenging each other and giving reasons and examples. These enquiries are repeated over a period of six months or more so that the children become more critical, creative, collaborative and caring in their thinking together.
SAPERE trains 2,500 teachers a year in P4C, reaching over 50,000 children at primary and secondary levels. Our experience, backed up by academic research, has shown that there are numerous benefits including:
- increased self-esteem, disproportionately so in children with lower self-esteem;
- increased motivation to enquire and learn, transforming the attitudes of demotivated children;
- substantial gains in oral communication skills, literacy and numeracy, again particularly in the less able;
- encouragement for the children to raise questions and exchange opinions collaboratively;
- enhanced respect for the views of others and increased confidence in one’s own judgements;
- more thoughtful and reflective responses to other learning situations;
- improvement in behaviour in class and playground, and an increased ability to resolve disputes by discussion rather than by physical means.
We have committed time and effort to P4C in our school because we feel that it gives children an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings in a constructive and effective way. We can see a development in the ability of children to negotiate, see the views of others and put their own case forward in a way which benefits their own thinking and does so through constructive dialogue with their peers and adults alike.
Head teacher at a small rural primary school
Teachers benefit from being trained in the P4C facilitation technique through increased skill and confidence in using open-ended questioning techniques and giving children more opportunities to think rather than to accept, and to reflect on their own thinking and learning.
The Index for Inclusion shares many values in common with SAPERE, including promoting independent critical thinking (Indicator C2.3), increasing children's self-esteem (A2.9), building mutual respect in the learning community (A1.4, C2.8) and promoting non-violent interactions (A2.8)
For more information, please contact SAPERE on 01865 408 333 or visit www.sapere.org.uk.