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Pelham Primary School

Philosophy for children (P4C)

P4C is a firm favourite at Pelham, for pupils and teachers alike!  

If you walked into a P4C lesson in action, you would see children sitting in a circle, taking it in turns to debate and reason with their peers over key social and political issues in the world.  Lessons start with children looking at a thought-provoking stimulus which can be anything from a photograph, video clip, piece of music, piece of art or a picture book.  They are then tasked with thinking of philosophical 'I wonder' questions about the stimulus.  This in turn opens up an engaging, pupil-led discussion which the teacher facilitates.

In a P4C session, children know actions for:

Is This Serious? Why do I my Thumbs Click?

  • agree with
  • I disagree with 
  • I want to build upon that person's point
  • I want to pass; if they would rather not have a turn at speaking.  Children know that in this instance they still have to participate as active listeners.

We encourage children to have debates and celebrate personal opinions and points of view.  The wonder of teaching a P4C lesson is seeing someone have their mind changed!  From Nursery onwards, it is instilled in our pupils that having your mind changed by someone is a wonderful thing!

Philosophy Bear enjoys participating in lessons, and is often used as a tool to open up important discussions.  Children respond really well to him or her as someone they want to offer their advice and opinions to.  For example, once when other teddies upset him by saying that boys couldn't do ballet, the class wrote encouraging letters to him to cheer him up and some boys and girls even offered to go with him to the lesson!

At Pelham we want all pupils to:

  • be curious and question the world around them.
  • be good listeners and communicators.
  • be empathetic and respectful of others opinions and differences.
  • be able to explain their reasoning clearly and confidently.
  • be critical thinkers.
  • be well-rounded, open-minded citizens of the world.

We will do this by:

  • facilitating philosophical enquiries and moral debates.
  • presenting children with thought-provoking stimuli as an opener, to encourage exploratory talk. Ensuring we as teachers, provide pupils with a vast range of stimuli including books, art work, objects and photographs, which the enquiry will centre around.
  • encouraging a ‘have-a-go’ attitude, using positive reinforcement to build self-esteem in pupils.
  • asking higher-order, open-ended questions to challenge children and have them engaged in a ‘deep’ level of learning.
  • ensuring children employ the crucial 4 C’s of P4C in their lessons, namely to be critical, creative, caring and collaborative as learners.
  • promoting a culture of questioning and curiosity throughout Pelham. We will work hard to be a school which develops children’s thinking skills, their ability to reflect and an openness to have one’s mind broadened through philosophical enquiry.

An example of the type of stimulus we have used to promote philosophical questioning:

Odd One Out Paintings | Fine Art America