Philosophy for Children

 

The Empty Space WS

.

What is Philosophy for Children (P4C)?

Sapere registered trainer logo

Developed by Mathew Lipman in the USA in the 1960s and 70s, P4C is currently practiced in approximately 60 countries worldwide. The approach engages children in philosophical thinking and dialogue around concepts or ‘Big Ideas’ that are important in their lives; happiness, identity and truth, for example. This both enriches the children’s understanding of these concepts and supports them to engage in better dialogue. Getting better at dialogue means getting better at ‘thinking together’, which ultimately leads to better personal thinking and greater wisdom.

You can find out more at the website of SAPERE, the charity administering P4C in the UK.

 

Why Practice P4C?

P4C helps children to be comfortable with the idea that other people have different points of view or perspectives to their own. It encourages them to see differences in perspectives not as threats but as opportunities for learning. It equips them to seek to understand new perspectives, to challenge and evaluate them and ultimately to use them to make new meaning and better decisions. It makes them wiser.

A growing body of evidence shows that regular P4C practice has multiple benefits (for both students and teachers) that transfer to subjects across the curriculum and lead to higher attainment. Take a look at this 2015 report from the Education Endowment Foundation to find out more.

This video of P4C in action at the Gallions Primary School in London makes a persuasive case for its impact:

 

 

What CPD and Support is Available?

Dr Neil Phillipson is an experienced SAPERE-registered trainer, and has worked with many schools to develop their P4C practice over a period of time (see the Case Study below as an example). Please contact Neil to discuss your individual needs. Common forms of CPD and support are:

 

SAPERE Validated Level 1 Training

This is a twelve-hour course preparing participants to practice P4C effectively in their schools. Individuals can attend open courses, or schools can book in-house training. Flexible delivery models are available. SAPERE handbooks and web-based resources are included. Click here for a course description.

 

Tools for Thinking Together

This is a one day Sapere-validated course for people / schools who have completed the Level 1 course and have been practicing P4C for three months or more. It focuses on developing progress in P4C through application of the 4Cs model (the development of Caring, Collaborative, Critical and Creative thinking) and through better facilitation. You can find out more about the course here.

 

Sapere Validated Level 2a Training

This is a two-day course for those with Level 1 certification who have been practicing P4C for at least six months. It aims to move P4C practice ‘to the next level’ by focusing on facilitation, the use of philosophical exercises and the progressive development of the skills involved in Caring, Collaborative, Critical and Creative thinking – the 4Cs. Delegates will also develop their capacity to support P4C practice across their setting. You can see a course description here. Schools and Trusts can send delegates on open courses, or arrange for a course as Inset. 

 

Consultancy and In-Class Support

Modelling and support of classroom practice. Support for P4C leaders, including strategic long-term planning to ensure that P4C practice progresses over time, culminating, if desired, in Sapere School Awards

 

Introductory Sessions

Staff meetings (which can be preceded by in-class modelling) can be arranged to introduce the practice. 

 

Please contact Neil if you would like to book a course or if you would be interested in hosting an open Level 1 course in your school in exchange for two free places.

 

Case Study – The Societas Trust

Since October 2018, Neil has been fortunate to support the five primary schools and one associated nursery that comprise The Societas Trust. The settings are based in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent and work closely with Keele and North Staffordshire Teacher Education and their Executive Director and fellow Sapere trainer Diane Swift.

Having identified P4C as a desired intervention, the Trust used the EEF guidance report on implementation to structure their planning. They included P4C in their strategic planning and a steering group consisting of senior leaders and governors was assembled. 

Following Level 1 training, two lead teachers were appointed from each setting. Each setting wrote a P4C policy – across the Trust some aspects were ‘tight’ (non-negotiable – including 1 hour a week of practice) and others loose (the hour could be divided across the week as appropriate, for example).

The group of P4C leads met once a term to plan / take additional training – they have recently been trained to Level 2A.  Each setting has had 0.5 – 1 day of support from Neil in school. 

The progress made by all settings has been fantastic. At the time of writing, three of the six settings have a Sapere Bronze Award (and are well on the way to Silver) and three are about to submit their applications. Here are the thoughts of Nichola Gibson, Head Teacher of Ellison Primary Academy and the Trust’s lead on P4C, and Jon Lovatt, the Trust’s CEO, on the impact that P4C has made so far:

“In a relatively short time we have already seen an amazing positive impact, with children of all backgrounds and abilities now beginning to ask more open, philosophical type questions, and in their willingness to collaborate to make more sense of other people’s points of view. This rapid rate of improvement has been made possible through our total commitment to P4C as an organisation as a whole from the outset.”

Jon Lovatt, CEO, Societas Trust