Philosophy for children at Elmridge
Elmridge is developing P4C (Philosophy for Children, Colleges and Communities) throughout the school. As you will see, when you read on, the value of philosophy clearly embodies the school’s educational vision and values. The enquiry-led learning that is seen in P4C lessons is utilised in other subjects such as history and the staff are keen to expand its use even further across the curriculum. Philosophy is now represented on the timetable in all classes from Reception to Year 6 but pupils will also enjoy philosophical enquiry within lessons in other subjects. All class teachers have been trained at Level 1 in P4C through the Sapere organisation and over the next academic year a number of teachers will pursue additional qualifications.
Philosophy for Children (P4C) is an educational initiative built on the aspiration for dialogue about questions that matter, sometimes described as ‘big questions’ or questions about ‘big ideas’. It is an approach which impacts positively on children’s social and emotional, as well as intellectual development.
Philosophy literally means ‘lover of wisdom’ (from the Greek: ‘philo’=love, ‘sophia’=wisdom), and has its origins in the Socratic method of thought, asking and answering methodical questions to stimulate critical thinking, draw out ideas and expose assumptions. Philosophy can be thought of more as ‘a practice rather than another subject’, relevant to all areas of life – and applicable to different curriculum subjects.
Philosophical ‘big questions’ are ‘wondering questions’ – about meaning, truth, value, knowledge and reality – formed around philosophical concepts (such as ‘family’, ‘anger’, ‘jealousy’, ‘altruism’, ‘sameness’ or ‘difference’, for example) which are:
- common to humans worldwide
- central to how we think of ourselves and others – connected to human endeavour, our everyday experiences (which enquirers can draw upon to test out ideas, using concrete examples and counter examples)
- contestable– open to examination, further questioning and enquiry – such concepts do not mean the same to everyone, and cannot be answered solely by researching facts or scientific investigation
P4C takes place within a Community of Enquiry, defined as ‘a group of people used to thinking together with a view to increasing their understanding and appreciation of the world around them and of each other’ – aiming to be ‘respectful of different experiences and open to other ways of thinking, but determined to think and act for themselves’.
Facilitated by a skilled P4C practitioner, participants foster a culture of collaborative (e.g. building on each other’s ideas, working together), caring (e.g. listening and appreciating other’s ideas), critical (e.g. asking ‘big idea’ questions, giving good reasons) and creative thinking (e.g. making connections, comparing things).
Within a community of enquiry, the focus shifts from traditional didactic teacher-centred learning to participants becoming co-enquirers who build on each other’s ideas to pursue shared (as opposed to competitive) thinking, connections and meaning-making.
Please find below some of the philosophical questions and themes that the pupils will be discussing in their communities of enquiry across an academic year:
Is it fair to keep animals as pets?
What makes something special or valuable?
Is spending money more important than spending time?
Stories with morals, create your own stories
How important is appearance?
Wealth, poverty, life priorities
Animal and human rights
Jumping to conclusions
Laws and responsibilities
Who would make your perfect friend?
What is true friendship?
Exploring poor behaviour
What are numbers? Do we need them?
Is fur fair?
Modernity v tradition
Giving to charities
Selfishness and selflessness
Loneliness, friendships and a new start
Who is responsible for your teeth?
The meaning of life, stereotypes
Control and personal freedom
Why do we enjoy being scared?
Fairness and qualities
Guilt and responsibility
What makes good music?
Words and body language
Explaining, considering and appreciating everyday things
Should you follow orders?
Is money real?
Understanding of religion
Ownership and changing nature
Social responsibility, making choices, community
Privacy and behaviour
Charities and giving
Comedy and historical tragedy- the ethics of finding humour in tragic historical events
Is there any such thing as a just invasion?
Nature and numbers
Photographs as memories
Do you need to see something to believe it?