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Global Link DEC | P4C Methodology


P4C Methodology

The P4C Handbook

Why philosophical enquiries?

Because the skills and attitudes developed through philosophical enquiry (P4C) are closely allied to those central to development education. Philosophical enquiry aims to develop thinking which is –

  • Critical – thus allowing them to critically examine their own values and attitudes, as well as those of others
  • Caring – helping them learn to respect and value others, wherever and whoever they are
  • Collaborative – working together with others is a crucial skill if we are hoping pupils will be able to combat injustice and discrimination
  • Creative – an attribute necessary if young people are to become active global citizens.

What’s different about P4C?

Philosophical enquiry allows students to engage with issues on a deeper level than might be possible with other forms of teaching. Presented with a stimulus such as a story, poem or artefact, students are first invited to reflect on it privately without making any response at all. This is a rare opportunity in a classroom, and one which encourages them to get past their initial response. As they form questions together and then go on to discuss their ideas, they are encouraged by the teacher to listen respectfully to each other and to challenge each others ideas, all the time pushing for a better understanding together.

Nearly all the stages in a philosophical enquiry can be conducted with little or no reading and writing, and this is another great strength. It allows pupils who for whatever reason have poorly developed literacy to tackle issues of some complexity and sophistication. So whether they are young people disaffected by education, or simply very young children, teachers frequently comment how P4C allows them to think and communicate more deeply, even about issues outside their daily experience. This makes it an ideal methodology for global citizenship.

Teachers Comments

"By the end of the term they had begun to explore complex issues which initially I would not have believed Y2 children could have done"

"Children enjoyed and looked forward to the philosophy sessions. Their improved skills showed in other lessons- I will use ideas from P4C in other areas."

"Pupils’ listening skills improved, children involved and animated, would use techniques across curriculum" 

Students Comments

"What I liked most was the way we all listened to each other when we all had to speak together and had a choice about what question we wanted to talk about (KS4 pupils, Pupil Referral Unit)"

"The lessons were really interesting and relevant to modern society. The skills we practised are very useful for adult life (A level general studies students)"

"it was really good because it taught us lots about other countries. We thought about governments’ promises to look after poor people (Y3/4) "

More information about how P4C can support teaching in a primary schools, can be found on Global Dimension website.