A student who is capable of thinking critically, stating and explaining their opinion, listening to alternative points of view, open to changing their minds and drawing conclusions, is a student who is ready for the ‘real’ world. Philosophy challenges students to look at their world and make personal decisions about their attitudes and values.
Philosophy for Children was inspired by the work of John Dewe “How We Think’ and was developed by Matthew Lipman in the l950s for underprivileged students in New Jersey. By using stories purposely written , with big ideas and questions, he was able to open up the minds of these students. This approach proved to be very successful because it allowed students to express their ideas, listen to and critique other people’s views and to accept challenges to their own thinking.
P4C enables critical thinking and encourages children to make reasonable judgements. Critical inquiry is involving ‘thinking through problematic situations about what to believe or how to act where the thinker makes reasoned judgements that embody the qualities of a competent thinker. What makes a situation problematic is when there is some doubt as to the most appropriate action.’
These are skills that we all aspire to and ones that don’t occur by osmosis; they need to be taught, practiced and reflected upon. In the modern education systems around the western world, thinking skills have become an important part of the classroom programme. Philosophy for Children (P4C) allows children to practise these skills in a meaningful context which is one of the cornerstones of learning at Balmoral.
Skills covered in P4C will include: (These universal skills are appropriate for each curriculum area)
• asking relevant questions
• showing sensitivity to context in discussion
• demonstrating an ability to find relevant examples
• showing openness to new ideas
• identifying, justifying and clarifying idea
• consistency when developing points of views
• expressing ideas coherently
• paraphrasing or building on others’ ideas
• discussing issues with objectivity
• accepting corrections by peers willingly
• showing respect for members of the Community of Inquiry
• listening to understand
• evaluating the thinking used