What is Philosophy for Children (P4C)?
Philosophy for Children (P4C) was created by American Professor Matthew Lipman in the late 1960’s, and its aim was to encourage children to be more reasonable, reflective and considerate.
P4C is essentially about developing the 4 types of thinking, the 4Cs:
The 4Cs of Thinking
Below are the 4Cs of Thinking we use with our junior children. These are the skills are the focus of our P4C sessions.
· I give others encouragement to speak e.g. smiling, thanking others for their contributions;
· I am keen to share my opinion or idea
· I respond in a friendly way to different ideas or views;
· I give everyone a chance to talk so that most participate in the session;
· I speak to others by name and not to the teacher.
· I show respect for the speaker e.g. eye contact, no interrupting;
· I listen carefully to what is said and think about is e.g. agree and disagree with ideas
· I am open to changing my ideas;
· I keep my speech to the point, focusing on the stimulus and concept;
· I take an interest in ideas that are different to their own;
· I can make connections with ideas and concepts;
· I give examples to support my reasoning;
· I think ‘what if…?’
· I think about what follows—’so then…?’
· I suggest new ideas or alternative ways of thinking;
· I ask ‘big questions’;
· I give good reasons for ideas;
· I ask for clarification and evidence/examples;
· I can draw a distinction between two ideas/concept (compare ideas and identify similarities and differences).
· I give counter examples and arguments
· I recognise and questions assumptions (UKS2 only);
· I try to create definitions for concepts (UKS2)
A typical, plain vanilla enquiry
P4C enquiries at St Robert’s Catholic School generally follow the following structure. Sessions are not restricted to this structure alone and should be adapted according to the activity/stimulus and year group being taught. In Early Years P4C looks different as the sessions are shorter in length and tend to focus on concept stretcher style activities.
- Ground rules for a community of enquiry - what rules do we need for a group discussion? Often a warm up game is played at this point. This can link to the concept being explored or the 4Cs skills that is a focus for the community
- Introduction and sharing of the Stimuli to the community.
- Initial Thoughts/concept discussion – the children have some quiet reflection time on the stimulus. The children identify some of the concept that are within the stimulus.
- Question Making – in groups pupils devise ‘big questions’ about the stimulus and the concepts within it.
- Question airing – the sharing of the questions with the rest of the group.
- Question voting – using a range of strategies the children vote on the question for the dialogue, giving pupils ownership of the session.
- First Thoughts - Give pupils individual time to reflect on the question – what do they think about it?
- Building – the dialogue deepens and develops through a dialogue that is carefully facilitated by the class teacher/facilitator.
- Final Thoughts– Have we found an answer to the question? Where might this enquiry go next? Highlight difference in opinions and arguments that have emerged during the session.
- Review and Evaluation – pupils and teacher review the 4Cs of thinking, considering which skills have been covered in the session and the focus for future sessions.
During P4C enquiries and activities the class teacher takes on the role of the facilitator. Their role is to be a guardian to the ethos of the community, ensuring caring and collaborative thinking skills are developed. They are to also use the following skills to ensure pupils explore ideas in depth and that the dialogue moves forward:
Anything that contains concepts which are central to our lives and contestable can form a stimulus to a P4C enquiry. This might include: