Philosophy for Children

Philosophy for Children

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It is our mission to support teachers in educating our children towards independent thinking and healthy self-confidence. Independent thinking is good for preventing totalitarianism – concepts about how things stand, imposed from above. The Philosophy for Children method exploits the natural inquisitiveness and playfulness of children and adults in examining important ethical or philosophical questions, critical thinking, cooperation and creativity.

The Philosophy for Children method (shortened to P4C) began in the 1970s in the United States and today is applied in more than 60 countries. Thanks to our courses, this method is used by more than 400 teachers in nursery, primary and secondary schools across the Czech Republic. We also work with students of pedagogical disciplines at universities.

The ability to express one’s own opinion, support it with arguments and act confidently in a group influences the future social and economic success in the life of children, resilience against manipulation and disinformation. Moreover, research conducted in the United Kingdom shows that the method has the greatest effect on children who are disadvantaged in some way. Philosophy for Children is capable of erasing differences between children and improve their linguistic and mathematic skill s, their proficiency in speaking and listening.

This type of research has not yet been conducted in the Czech Republic, but feedback from teachers suggests that Philosophy for Children:

  • contributes to a change in the atmosphere at school and improvement in relations between school children
  • enhances inclusion of socially disadvantaged and gifted children
  • helps increase self-confidence and creativity in children
  • introduces elements of democracy into tuition
  • leads to a change in the role of the teacher

What does a P4C lesson look like? or There’s philosophy and philosophy

The fundamental aim of Philosophy for Children is a gradual creation of a so-called philosophising community – a safe space where the teacher transmits concepts to children that motivate them towards thought and discussion. So this is not philosophy as a discipline of social sciences, but rather a didactic method that in time teaches children how to pose open, philosophical questions. Together they then examine these questions via dialogue during which other matters come up that help to investigate the topic more thoroughly. A concrete example of application of the method to a history lesson appears in the publication P4C in Tuition.

Collective examination develops empathy and respect for others’ opinions, enhances children’s ability to share their own ideas and to build on others’ ideas. Children also learn how to express their polite disagreement with the opinions of others, to challenge presumptions, to analyse separate topics and to consider several viewpoints at once and mainly how to think “in another way”. This means that the teacher is not the focal point of tuition, someone that has to captivate the eyes and ears of their audience, but rather the teacher assumes the role of a fellow-researcher. The teacher may suggest topics for research and help lead discussion as coordinator and facilitator.

P4C as a separate lesson and component to any subject

Many schools in the United Kingdom have Philosophy for Children as a separate lesson. This must have some advantages, but there is no need to worry if this would not work at your school. The method may be applied more or less in all subjects – from civics, through Czech, history and other humanities all to way to maths or natural sciences. It can even be applied in PE or in art lessons. You will find more details on how to introduce the method into the curriculum in the P4C in Tuition handbook.

What do we offer?

  • open-to-all training in the P4C method for both beginner and advanced teachers
  • training provided may be ordered for the entire teaching staff
  • methodological consultation and teaching materials
  • regular peer to peer meetings between teachers and trainers.

We would like to thank Jason Buckley and Tom Biggleston from The Philosophy Man, Ltd. for their cooperation, methodological support and materials provided.

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