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:
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.