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What is P4C?

Philosophy for Children (P4C) is a proven inquiry based pedagogy where students take the lead and teachers facilitate.  P4C is applicable across all school age ranges from kindergarten to senior school.   P4C shows teachers how to teach through dialogue, facilitate student-led inquiries and get to know the students better.

P4C shows students how to think independently,  reason effectively, communicate persuasively and explore their values.  The students have a strong say in the content of a lesson and a safe space to discuss views on a wide range of topics.  
P4C is fun: students and teachers love it.

"I hope to carry with me elements of the P4C practice wherever I go – the benefits of creating a “community of inquiry” within one’s classroom are self-evident, and provide an excellent basis not just for academic curiosity, but also help to build  emotional intelligence and constructive confrontation skills for young children."  - Mae, teacher in Shanghai

Benefits of P4C

Over 100 studies worldwide have shown that P4C: 

  • Enhances thinking and reasoning across the curriculum;
  • Supports development of values and understanding of virtues;
  • Helps students become more articulate and confident speakers and listeners;
  • Shows students how to challenge and question, within the rules of respectful dialogue;
  • Builds new skills for teachers in open-ended questioning and inquiry based learning.

P4C Thinking

P4C builds educational and social skills in four types of thinking

  • Caring thinking – involving consideration of and respect for others and their interests;
  • Creative thinking – introducing new thoughts and building on those of others;
  • Critical thinking – justifying and evaluating ideas;
  • Collaborative thinking - working constructively with the rest of the group.  

Community of Inquiry

A community of inquiry is the group in which a P4C session takes place.  It is a group in which the individuals feel valued by each other and where they feel safe to express their views and share their experiences.  In most schools the whole class will form the community of inquiry, but it can also work with smaller groups.

It takes time and skill for the facilitator to build an effective community of inquiry.   Some students will take longer than others to start participating actively.  In general this is not a problem, and many teachers find that students who take longer to join in often come up with deep insights when they do start talking.   As long as students are listening well, they will be thinking and benefiting from hearing what others have to say

A vital first step in creating a community of inquiry is to establish a set of ground rules or guidelines with the group.  It is important that the students agree to these, or even suggest rules themselves, rather than the teacher imposing a set of rules.  This is a critical part of P4C being a democratic student-led process.  

P4C Training

At P4C China, we will train you to start using P4C through a structured inquiry model. As you become more experienced, you can use P4C more flexibly to stress particular learning goals. and others focusing on specific skills. More focused sessions can also be used within the curriculum, whenever inquiry based learning is an appropriate tool.

See P4C in action 

An example of part of a P4C inquiry with 11 year old children in a school in London.  

Year 6 P4C enquiry from SAPERE on Vimeo.

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