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P4C - can I use it like this?

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by Psychy, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. We've traditionally done a Yr 7 joint History/RE/Geography trip which produces an unbearably dull project over the next few lessons as followup. I'd like to change what we do, but I'm up against some anti-change teachers so I really need to sell them something (they can be surprisingly enthusiastic when persuaded) to replace this.

    I've read a bit about P4C and I'd like to see if I can incorporate some of these ideas into an enquiry about the town we visit (there's a castle, cathedral, local farms etc), but all the stuff I've read about P4C in lessons seems to suggest that there is one lesson consisting of; reading 'text', coming up with some questions, discussing questions, end. Does anyone have any ideas about how this could be applied to a school trip? Is it possible to stretch over more than one lesson? Is there any 'outcome' that we could then take in to share as teachers (each pupil will have 3 different subject teachers trying to teach this project)?

    I'd appreciate any help you can give me!
    Thanks
     
  2. We've traditionally done a Yr 7 joint History/RE/Geography trip which produces an unbearably dull project over the next few lessons as followup. I'd like to change what we do, but I'm up against some anti-change teachers so I really need to sell them something (they can be surprisingly enthusiastic when persuaded) to replace this.

    I've read a bit about P4C and I'd like to see if I can incorporate some of these ideas into an enquiry about the town we visit (there's a castle, cathedral, local farms etc), but all the stuff I've read about P4C in lessons seems to suggest that there is one lesson consisting of; reading 'text', coming up with some questions, discussing questions, end. Does anyone have any ideas about how this could be applied to a school trip? Is it possible to stretch over more than one lesson? Is there any 'outcome' that we could then take in to share as teachers (each pupil will have 3 different subject teachers trying to teach this project)?

    I'd appreciate any help you can give me!
    Thanks
     
  3. I suppose you could give pupils cameras and they could take their own photos, in groups, of images that raise questions about the past, what life is about, and the world around us. Then they could use them as a focus for work back at school.
     
  4. It's easy to get hung up on the "mechanic" of P4C that you describe here - it's the aspect that most short training courses in P4C tend to focus on, because procedures are easier to get across than underlying principles. Much more important than going through any particular series of steps is having a particular "philosophy" of approaching a subject. At its heart, P4C is about identifying the most interesting, contestable concepts in the text or topic in hand, framing questions about them to which reasonable people will give different answers, and discuss those questions in an open, democratic fashion with the teacher facilitating the discussion rather than directing it.

    So you could certainly stretch something over more than one lesson. If you search "philosophytopicprocessor" on youtube you'll find a video I've put together that talks through the stages of going from topic to concepts to questions to activities, to identifying a "big question" that could be used, in your case, to tie together activities across a range of subject areas.

    Something that might be a connecting theme for history/geography would be the gap between rich and poor - looking at evidence for it historically and now, and including some of the positive things that were made possible by inequality as well (such as architectural gems).

    I think a school trip could make an unbeatable stimulus for philosophical discussion, because experiences outside the classroom are so engaging and provide a rich shared context for thinking. It would take some planning but when you consider how much effort goes into the logistics of organising a trip, it's rather daft how little thought usually goes into getting the most out of it in terms of learning. It's usually turgid "reporting back", prettified presentations of some superficial facts, or those utterly pointless quizzes that distract kids from actually looking properly at anything.

    It would make an interesting issue of the email bulletin I send out to teachers to exchange a few ideas about this and hear how you get on, so after you've looked at the video and begun to see if this approach would work for you, get in touch with me via thephilosophyman.com and we'll bat some ideas around. Jason.
     

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