Benefits felt in all the curriculum

21st January 2005 at 00:00
It seems to me that Jill Parkin could do with a few Philosophy for Children sessions. She is clearly distressed with the current state of education - cramped timetables, limited budgets and endless "must-have" publications.

Who isn't?

As a result she is cynical and, armed with only one resource and one lesson observation, has utterly misunderstood and dismissed the P4C initiatives.

Her view seems to be a non-constructive, panic-stricken rant expressing that we don't have time to think and that we actually don't need to: "For most of us - scholars of Nietzsche, Wittgenstein and Aristotle apart - the answer is 42 and get on with your life."

Is this what we want to teach our children? In my experience, children relish P4C as a (rare) chance to think for themselves and explore with teachers and other children. In addition to panicking over time for thinking, Jill Parkin has also conflated the benefits of P4C with her grudge against publishers and particular resources.

Philosophy for Children was not a creation of publishers but of Matthew Lipman, a university professor, in America during the 1960s. He was distressed at the poor level of thinking skills among his students. He felt that it was best to teach thinking skills from childhood.

Philosophy for Children is an approach that actually benefits other subjects as well.

Yvette Evans St Christopher school Letchworth Garden City Letchworth, Hertfordshire

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