The Cumbria Development Education Centre (CDEC) and Lancashire Global Education Centre teamed up to conduct an innovative project at two Pupil Referral Units: Brookside Short Stay School, and Newbridge House. The idea was to assess the effectiveness of P4C in the Global Citizenship curriculum with children who were excluded from mainstream education.
Eddy Richards, Coordinator at the North West Global Education Network (which funded the project) said that on the whole, the results were positive.
“The children gained confidence and self esteem—for example, one child who was an elective mute began to contribute in sessions, to the astonishment of teachers! They improved some of their critical thinking skills, as well as their ability to participate effectively in group sessions by listening to others, taking turns, and being open minded. There were some changes in attitudes towards some of the topics, such as asylum-seekers, though perhaps not as much as one might ideally hope. Having said that, the benefits in the first aspects mentioned were so large that they have a much better basis for building on in further work. I should emphasise that these children really are ‘hard-to-reach’ and have been excluded from most of the educational process, so their starting points were low.”
Eddy added, “Whilst the students commented that they learnt what a philosophical question was, the teachers observed that after the P4C sessions, the students were better able to gather coherent thoughts, make questions, put forward an opinion, and put thoughts and ideas into well-structured sentences”.
SAPERE is an educational charity whose members are interested in the role of philosophical enquiry in education. The website has a guide to P4C in the UK.
» Visit the SAPERE website
The Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children was established by P4C founder Matthew Lipman. It provides information for teachers, and materials for engaging children in philosophical enquiry.
» Visit the IAPC website