Children are taught how to create their own philosophical questions. They then choose one question that is the focus of a philosophical enquiry, or dialogue. For example, the question might be 'is it ever ok to steal?'
At St Matthews, we believe teaching Philosophy for Children helps children to think, communicate and express themselves better. P4C helps to develop higher order thinking skills and helps children learn to co-operate with others. The P4C curriculum at St Matthews, is therefore designed with the intent to help pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
The intent of the P4C curriculum is to also develop the children’s oracy skills and vocabulary, increasing their confidence when speaking in front of a groups. P4C is also taught to help improve concentration and thinking skills and to encourage children to become more critical thinkers.
At St Matthews, P4C is imbedded within our school curriculum. P4C is delivered regularly through all areas of the curriculum but is also taught through stand-alone lessons. P4C also plays a vital part in our mission to promote the development of vocabulary by giving children engaging topics to discuss. The pedagogy of P4C is imbedded across all areas of the curriculum and is promoted during all subjects.
P4C promotes an enquiry-based curriculum where students are encouraged to ask questions and find the answers through discussion. Children come together as a whole class for regular discussions about a wide variety of themes and topics. These sessions give children the opportunity to speak freely and exchange and discuss ideas and opinions in a nurturing and safe environment. Children are encouraged to ask questions, explore alternative ideas and try to understand the views of others. Therefore, children develop the ability to recognise differences and explore these constructively.
The approach fostered through P4C will help to develop higher levels of self-esteem and intellectual confidence for EYFS, KS1 and KS2 children. Pupils learn the skills to be clear in their thinking so that they can explain their ideas, give good reasons for their views and develop their vocabulary. It teaches patience, respect to others and a better understanding of the world around us.
Children learn through the 10 steps of philosophical enquiry:
- Getting Set – a group activity
- Presentation of a Stimulus
- Private Reflection
- Shared Reflection
- Formulation of questions
- Airing of questions
- Selection (voting)
- First Thoughts
- Building Ideas Together
- Final Thoughts
A typical philosophy lesson starts with a game and then the children being given a stimulus, such as a picture book, a video or a piece of music or art. They will create a list of philosophical questions inspired by the stimulus – anything from, ‘Are friends more important than family?’ to, ‘Is it ever okay to steal?’ – and vote on which one to talk about. The class then has an ‘enquiry’ – an open dialogue – around that question.
The impact of P4C is to help pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development equipping them to be thoughtful, caring and active citizens in an inclusive school and in a diverse wider society. It will also prepare them to enter secondary education with the ability to think and articulate their opinions independently.
Each lesson ends with an evaluation of the enquiry. During this time, the children reflect and comment on what has worked well and what could be improved. The children complete self and peer assessments to recognise their new learning and understanding. Each lesson allows the children to develop their P4C and communication skills as well as allowing them to explore different areas of the curriculum through different mediums. Progression of skills is evident throughout the school through the children’s ability to form and answer complex questions.
As P4C is taught across the curriculum, each lesson is evidenced in the workbook related to the topic at hand. Eg a P4C lesson associated with a history topic is recorded in the children’s history book. This is titled and stamped accordingly. Further evidence is acquired through videos and pictures of different parts of the enquiries which is evidenced on the school website and class displays.
Subject and school leaders monitor the impact of our curriculum provision through completing regular monitoring of evidence, analysing assessment data collected by class staff and through listening to the voice of our children.