Philosophy for Children

The following areas of the primary curriculum are covered in this post:

  • Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE)
  • Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
  • Philosophy for Children (P4C).

Tall Tartan Talks here … This post continues my education series which starts with Why I Tutor.

This post on Philosophy for Children leads on from Children’s Well-being and Mindfulness. See the links at the end to other posts in this series.

Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE)

The UK Department for Education website (updated 2020) states: Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education is an important and necessary part of all pupils’ education. All schools should teach PSHE, drawing on good practice.

[ … ] Schools should seek to use PSHE education to build, where appropriate, on the statutory content already outlined in the national curriculum, the basic school curriculum and in statutory guidance on drug education, financial education, sex and relationship education (SRE) and the importance of physical activity and diet for a healthy lifestyle.

Agreed – vital!

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) refers to the process through which children acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to understand and manage their emotions, build and maintain positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and navigate social situations.

SEL includes:

  1. Recognising and understanding your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and values.
  2. Learning to regulate and control your emotions, impulses, and behaviours, including stress management, goal-setting, and self-discipline.
  3. Developing empathy and the ability to understand and respect the feelings and perspectives of others.
  4. Building and maintaining positive relationships, including effective communication, active listening, conflict resolution, and cooperation.
  5. Developing the ability to make ethical and responsible choices, considering the well-being of yourself and others, including problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Research has shown that SEL can have a positive impact on academic performance, behaviour, mental health, and long-term success, as children who are emotionally and socially competent are better equipped to handle challenges and build positive relationships.

Philosophy for Children (P4C)

Defining Philosophy for Children

P4C is an approach to teaching and learning that explores the big ideas that arise in all areas of education and life experience. P4C uses philosophical dialogue and enquiry to help learners to think, to speak, to listen, to learn and to live together more effectively.

SAPERE: Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education; the UK’s national charity for Philosophy for Children (P4C). See the link at the end.

Purpose of Philosophy for Children

P4C is a subject which helps children of all ages think for themselves through philosophical dialogue with others. To encourage them to develop strategies for thinking, to be independent thinkers, but also to co-operate, as well as accept that others may have a different point of view.

Teaching P4C in the classroom

I discovered P4C when I was teaching a Year 4 class (8–9 year olds) in Essex, UK. The Headteacher of the school asked me to go on a course about teaching Philosophy. The course was six half days, (one half a day a week for 6 weeks). The two leaders borrowed a Year 5 class to practise with.

Fascinated, I learnt so many skills that I used their techniques weekly in lessons for years after as a way to encourage discussion, debate, healthy questioning and enquiry.

I started an after-school club called P4C. It was aimed at Key Stage 2 children (7–11 year olds). My P4C Club enjoyed using a bank of resources, including a wide range of games and subjects for debate that were philosophical in nature.

Encouraging philosophical discussion

P4C encourages discussion with a philosophical lean using:

  • stimuli for enquiries including stories, images, videos, poems, and picture books.
  • activities to get everyone involved in speaking, listening, and working as a community.
  • create a thoughtful space, build a supportive and challenging community, and develop questioning.

Debating philosophy

One of the P4C activities was to encourage debate.

  • In my role as facilitator / chairperson, I encouraged skills of debating deeper by asking why. Explanations, agreement, or opposition were expressed in an ongoing, respectful fashion.
  • Through each debate their opinions became more informed, with better, more reflective reasoning. Mainly they were safe in the knowledge that, if they could explain why, they were entitled to their opinion.

Specialising in education

This education series reflects on my former role as a teacher in the primary classroom. It relates to my specialism of proofreading educational materials. It emphasises my interest in promoting curiosity in children – and adults.

lightbulb of ideas
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See the links to the other posts in my series on education and teaching:

Why I Tutor

How I Teach English

How I Teach Maths

How Do You Learn

Children’s Well-being and Mindfulness

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Read further

  • PSHE Association: https://pshe-association.org.uk/
  • Philosophy for Children, Colleges and Communities. Introduces educators to P4C which helps learners to be critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers: www.sapere.org.uk
  • The Searchable Library of P4C Resources has free P4C resources, designed, tried and tested by experienced teachers, SAPERE trainers and children of all ages.
  • – The International Council of Philosophical Inquiry with Children: https://www.icpic.org/