Children across the school took part in a school wide ‘Spirited Arts’ competition, exploring ‘big questions’ through art, inspired by our school values. Take a look at our beautiful, reflective artwork in the ten winning entries (and the children's explanations in this letter to parents), which we submitted to the national competition!
A community of enquiry… fostering a culture of collaborative, caring, critical and creative thinking (linked to our school learning behaviours).
St Leonard’s is developing P4C (Philosophy for Children, Colleges and Communities) throughout the school, to support and enhance our focus on enquiry-led learning, with the aim of embedding Philosophy across the curriculum and working toward SAPERE* accreditation.
Philosophy for Children (P4C) is an educational initiative built on the aspiration for dialogue about questions that matter, sometimes described as ‘big questions’ or questions about ‘big ideas’. It is an approach which impacts positively on children’s social and emotional, as well as intellectual development.
Philosophy literally means ‘lover of wisdom’ (from the Greek: ‘philo’=love, ‘sophia’=wisdom), and has its origins in the Socratic method of thought, asking and answering methodical questions to stimulate critical thinking, draw out ideas and expose assumptions. Philosophy can be thought of more as ‘a practice rather than another subject’, relevant to all areas of life – and applicable to different curriculum subjects.
Philosophical ‘big questions’ are ‘wondering questions’ - about meaning, truth, value, knowledge and reality – formed around philosophical concepts (such as ‘family’, ‘anger’, ‘jealousy’, ‘altruism’, ‘sameness’ or ‘difference’, for example) which are:
- common to humans worldwide
- central to how we think of ourselves and others – connected to human endeavour, our everyday experiences (which enquirers can draw upon to test out ideas, using concrete examples and counter examples)
- contestable – open to examination, further questioning and enquiry – such concepts do not mean the same to everyone, and cannot be answered solely by researching facts or scientific investigation
P4C takes place within a Community of Enquiry, defined as ‘a group of people used to thinking together with a view to increasing their understanding and appreciation of the world around them and of each other’ – aiming to be ‘respectful of different experiences and open to other ways of thinking, but determined to think and act for themselves’.
Facilitated by a skilled P4C practitioner, participants foster a culture of collaborative (e.g. building on each other’s ideas, working together), caring (e.g. listening and appreciating other’s ideas), critical (e.g. asking ‘big idea’ questions, giving good reasons) and creative thinking (e.g. making connections, comparing things).
Within a community of enquiry, the focus shifts from traditional didactic teacher-centred learning to participants becoming co-enquirers who build on each other’s ideas to pursue shared (as opposed to competitive) thinking, connections and meaning-making.