As a resource writer, high school and now university-level teacher, I owe a lot to the Philosophy for Children methodology – known as “P4C”). What makes my experience particularly interesting is that P4C hails from the USA and I am an Australian – it is more popular overseas, than in its place of origin.
The P4C method draws primarily from the pragmatist tradition – Pierce, James, Mead and especially Dewey. The Community for Inquiry (aka CoI) includes Vygotsky’s theory of the internalization of social behavior and, naturally, draws upon the Socratic method with its community approach, with pupils sharing their views on questions drawn from stimulus materials.
Since 2004, I have worked with other P4C teachers with providing workshops, attending lectures nationally with the Australasian Federation for Philosophy for Children, writing resources and teaching the method to students at secondary and tertiary level. It’s a methodology that garners a lot of interest, and yet faces many of the challenges that a lot of good programs and initiatives do when it comes to promoting and sustaining their existence.
I have conducted a number of interviews with Philosophy for Children practitioners for vodcasts and podcasts, including presenting at a P4C conference on the use of podcasts in education. For this episode, I recently interviewed Dr Sue Knight, Adjunct Lecturer at the School of Education, University of South Australia and the former co-editor of Critical and Creative Thinking: The Australasian Journal of Philosophy in Education.
Dr Knight’s research interests include the development of justificatory reasoning skills and embedding philosophy in school curricula across the year levels, and she has published extensively in these areas. Dr Knight drafted the SA Years 11 and 12 Philosophy curriculum and remains actively involved with the South Australian Association of Philosophy for Children. In 2010 she served as chief evaluator of the NSW Ethics Course Trial, and is curriculum writer for Primary Ethics, the organisation delivering Ethics classes as an alternative to Scripture in NSW public schools. She recently presented at the Young Minds conference, in Sydney, on teaching ethics to young people.
Links and References
Cam, Philip. (1995), Thinking Together: Philosophical Inquiry for the Classroom. Australian English Teaching Association & Hale and Iremonger.
Lipman, M. (1980). Philosophy in the classroom (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Lipman, M. (1991). Thinking in education. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Splitter, Laurance J. and Ann Margaret Sharp. (1995), Teaching for Better Thinking: The Classroom Community of Enquiry. Melbourne, Acer.
FAPSA – Federation for Australian Philosophy in Schools Australasia.
Primary Ethics – Ethics Classes in Australia, which uses P4C methodology
IAPC (Institute for Advancement of Philosophy with Children) Montclair State University.
p4c.net Philosophy for Children on the World Wide Web
SAPERE – Philosophy for Children in the UK.
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