The teddy is a red herring

21st January 2005 at 00:00
What is Jill Parkin so upset about? She attempts a hatchet job on a very useful publication (But why? by Sara Stanley with Steve Bowkett) in which she might find much to agree with. By focusing on what she sees as an unnecessary expense (the pound;2.95 furry bear) she misses the salient point. The book is designed to be a support for those wishing to embark on Philosophy for Children (P4C) in their classroom.

The article applauds the use of stories because they make children think and ask questions - this is at the heart of P4C.

Was the article meant to be a book review? If so, it was inaccurate and unfair. Ms Parkin writes that the book tells us there are five "big questions"- delighting to poke fun at the last one, "what does it all mean?" I cannot find any reference to such a question in my copy. What I can find are 10 themes describing the philosophical concepts likely to be encountered and 139 questions that experience has shown may well be raised in P4C enquiries.

Was the article an attempt to belittle P4C? If so, it is poorly researched.

There are some 3,000 practitioners of P4C in our schools who will gladly show her its effectiveness. There are several research studies (e.g.the Clackmannanshire Project) which support the premise that regular P4C sessions enhance thinking skills and raise standards.

I agree we don't need a toy bear with a key ring in his head to engage children in critical and creative thinking. Nor do we need cheap, unresearched shots at a classroom practice that can be hugely beneficial.

Neil Pont Project director Aspect Excellence in Cities Springfield Centre Blakelaw, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

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