Stories are just the beginning

21st January 2005 at 00:00
There is no doubt that the telling of stories to children of all ages acts as a stimulus for discussion and debate, thus playing an important role in their learning. In a national curriculum, which has become constrained and convergent to provide the "correct answer", P4C is just the tool to promote divergent thinking skills.

However, your article misses the point of Philosophy for Children. P4C is a systematic approach to developing children's thinking through giving them opportunities to find, identify, ponder, discuss and ask questions about what is important to them in their lives.

This can be done through using stories as a stimulus, but goes beyond simply the telling of a story by the teacher. P4C provides a model to teach children how to discuss issues collaboratively, and develop their critical thinking skills. As a class teacher, I have used the P4C model with pupils from ages 7 to 11 within the context of the curriculum and I have been amazed by the positive responses and attitudes of children of all abilities.

When given a chance to take control of their own learning and make sense of their own experiences, they have much to discuss which they may have otherwise not had a chance to do. I should add that this has been without the need for Philosophy Bear or other new educational aids.

The P4C approach to learning can certainly stand alone to develop children's ability to think and enquire through the issues, which many stories bring up.

Alison Allsopp Alverstoke C of E junior school Alverstoke, Hampshire

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