Philosophy for Children and the National Curriculum
The National Curriculum is beginning to recognise the importance of thinking as a basis for children’s learning. Philosophy for Children (P4C) is the ideal tool to stimulate thinking skills.
P4C improves children’s critical, creative and rigorous thinking. It helps to develop higher order thinking skills, improve communication skills and helps children learn to co-operate with others. Children learn to reflect before speaking so that they are accurate in what they really want to say. All this has huge benefits for the National Curriculum.
In Mathematics, for example, children are required to discuss their work and explain why an answer is correct. And as they progress they need to begin to explain their thinking and to give examples.
In Science, children are required to respond to suggestions and put forward their own ideas about how to find the answer to a question.
In English, pupils talk and listen confidently in different contexts, exploring and communicating ideas. In discussion they show understanding of the main points. Through relevant comments and questions they show that they have listened carefully. They are able to vary their use of vocabulary and level of detail.
In History, children are required to understand how the past has been interpreted and represented by different people. They need to demonstrate an understanding of the results of change and how it affects us now.
In Geography they need an understanding of environments and cultures and be able to make reasoned judgements and views on the implications that these have in the world.
The skills that children acquire in P4C, they carry through to all areas of the curriculum to a staggering degree. The ability to concentrate, to think beyond the obvious, to listen and evaluate and to form their own opinions have extremely beneficial consequences.
To give one example – a year 2/3 class which had had two or three years experience of philosophical enquiry, while working on the topic of “Light” as part of the Science curriculum, spontaneously began to discuss whether light was the absence of darkness or dark was the absence of light.
Using and Applying
- The pupils recognise relationships…
- The children discuss their work… they explain why an answer is correct
- Pupils discuss their mathematical work and are beginning to explain their thinking… they show that they understand a general statement by finding particular examples that match it
- Children communicate their findings
- Pupils respond to suggestions about how to find things out and, with help, make their own suggestions… they describe their observations
- Pupils respond to suggestions and put forward their own ideas about how to find the answer to a question
- The children know and recount episodes from stories about the past
- They answer questions about the past on the basis of simple observations
- They show knowledge and understanding of the past… give reasons for the results of changes
- They show some understanding that aspects of the past have been represented and interpreted in different ways
- The children express their views…
- The children express their views… they ask and respond to questions
- They offer reasons for some of their observations and for their views and judgements about places and environments
- The children express their response to poems, stories and non-fiction by identifying aspects they like
- The children express opinions about major events or ideas in stories, poems and non-fiction
- In responding to fiction and non-fiction they show understanding of the main points and express preferences
- Pupil’s writing communicates meaning through simple words and phrases
- Use interesting and appropriate vocabulary… ideas are developed in a sequence of sentences
- Writing is imaginative and clear. Sequences of sentences extend ideas logically and words are chosen for variety and interest
- Ideas are often sustained and developed in interesting ways…..Vocabulary choices are often adventurous and words are used for effect
In Speaking and Listening
- Children begin to extend their ideas or accounts by providing some detail
- Children begin to show confidence in talking and listening… show awareness of the needs of the listener… explain their ideas… usually listen carefully and respond with increasing appropriateness
- Pupils talk and listen confidently in different contexts, exploring and communicating ideas. In discussion they show understanding of the main points. Through relevant comments and questions they show they have listened carefully… vary use of vocabulary and level of detail
Today Years 3 and 4 in Philosophy discussed the concept of Fairness. We watched a short clip, which involved three different children going on a quest. Sophie was the smallest but had brought the heaviest bag. Kareem, who had brought a middle sized bag had a sore arm, so found it hard to carry anything. Ben was the tallest but had purposely brought a small bag, so he didn't have to carry much on the quest. The discussion raised questions about Fairness and which child should carry the most.
Ms Waterman and Mrs Brown were joined by Mr Cooney during their P4C session today. Using a bruised apple, they were able to recognise how people can seem fine on the outside but be hurt on the inside. This started a really interesting enquiry round the chosen question 'Is it ever right to judge people?' What do you think?
Ms Waterman and Mrs Brown had another great enquiry with their focus group today. The question the group came up with was 'Should we ever hurt people?' We were very pleased to welcome two parents, Miss McWhan and one of our site caretakers into our enquiry today. They all fully involved themselves and were impressed by how the boys in our group spoke and discussed the question.
Someone said: 'It is never right to hurt someone but it might be necessary'
What do you think?
Both Ms Waterman and Mrs Brown would love to hear your thoughts on the question. Perhaps you could catch us in the corridor...