Over the past couple of days our school has been undertaking training in ‘Philosophy for Children’. This is literally what it says on the tin – children philosophising. The aim is to encourage children to think critically, caringly, creatively and collaboratively, encouraging them to question, discuss and offer opinions. Teachers facilitate this by building a ‘community of enquiry’ where children create and enquire into their own questions, ‘learning how to learn’ in the process.
It was quite a heavy couple of days with lots of information to take on board. But was it worth it?
One of the teachers in our school had been trialing P4C (I’m sure that abbreviation is pretty obvious!) for the past year and had reported that the children had benefitted greatly from it, allowing ‘talking homework’ to be set which was contributed to by parents at home and then blogged for all to see. So there was plenty of anecdotal eveidence to say it was working. So the rest of us took part in the two-day training. Like I said, heavy going (and, to be honest, the material could have been covered in a much shorter time span. Maybe it was the trainer we had but the pace was quite slow.)
However, there was some great discussion and philosophy going on during those two days and you could definitely see how involved the children could become in a very short space of time. Add to that the fact that children could democratically decide on the question they wanted to discuss and you have some real ownership going on. So all good stuff.
Would I recommend this approach to others? Well, if you look at the evidence given by the training company it has great impact. But obviously they’re going to say that! Business gets hit if you describe your product as ‘not very good’! However, we have definitely seen some great work going on in the class where it has been trialled. So I would have to give it a ‘thumbs up’. I do think the trainer has the opportunity to really ‘sell the approach’ and bring all that enthusiasm for the approach with them. Alas, for us, that wasn’t there. If it hadn’t have been for other members of our staff having done it before, with great results, then we may not have been so enthusiastic about trying it out as we now are. And it’s not cheap; into four figures for the two days. Food for thought.
For anyone interested, our training was through Sapere http://sapere.org.uk/
And for those of you that love some trivia:
Phil – love/liking
Sophi (like the name) – wisdom, knowledge, good judgement