The Big Question (Philosophy for Children)
What is “Philosophy for Children”?
Philosophy for Children is time given in the school day to help the children think more deeply about matters. A set time, once or twice a week, is allocated and the children have a meaningful discussion.
Why have “Philosophy for Children”?
It can help raise the voice of the child and allow them to feel some control over their learning. It also helps build stronger personal relations between the staff and the pupils.
The most important aspect is it provides an opportunity to extend thinking and learning by questioning our ideas and so helping to develop a future generation of “flexible thinkers”.
By providing special times to discuss a subject of interest, each child can feel valued and respected by being part of the discussion. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer in philosophy time.
By listening to the thoughts and opinions of others it can help the children to experience tolerance. Through encouragement in using statements such as, “I agree with..” or “I disagree with..”, the children can be shown that every person is entitled to have their own thought/idea/belief and that there will always be those who do not share that view – yet by listening to a different viewpoint it is possible to become a more tolerant individual.
Philosophy for children also provides a wonderful opportunity to link in with Literacy teaching, through “Speaking and Listening”. It also links into PHSE teaching; in the reinforcement of the concept of turn-taking, in fostering respect for others and in encouraging empathy.
How it works:
To help focus the children, and as a visual aid, to define the start and end of the session, we light a “thinking candle” - we recite a little poem as we do so -” Matches, matches, never touch, they can hurt you very much”....
We then do two or three ‘breathing exercises’ – all the children are encouraged to breathe in, then out and then to repeat this action. We tell them this will help focus their minds and make them feel calm and relaxed for our philosophy session, and will encourage “good thinking”.
The idea/thought/question to discuss is then introduced, for example, “Why did Little Bo Peep lose her sheep?” / “Why did Humpty Dumpty sit on a wall?”
The discussion gets under way – the children usually have a huge variety of thoughts and soon begin to incorporate the expected language, such as agreeing and disagreeing.