Primary School Volunteers

Philosophy is a unique subject for many reasons, but one of the brilliant things about philosophy is that it can be made accessible to anyone.

This is the idea behind our going into primary schools. We use a structure called p4c (philosophy for children) which follows a structure designed to promote philosophical thought and allow the pupils to take ownership of their own lessons.

The p4c Structure:

  • Warm up activity: This is usually just a game or ice breaker which is a bit of fun and may loosely tie in with the theme of the lesson.
  • Stimulus: We give the students a stimulus that we think will promote philosophical thought, this can be anything from a short story to a piece of music.
  • Quiet, thinking time: Thirty seconds of silence to allow the pupils to consider the stimulus.
  • First thoughts: We encourage children to share a couple of their own thoughts to the class, this ensures they are all thinking along the lines we were expecting.
  • Questions: We split the children into small groups and ask them to come up with a few questions that they’d like to discuss in the lesson, this is a technique which allows the children to take ownership of the lesson; it is their ideas which will decide the lesson’s direction.
  • Voting: In their small groups, they must decide on one question to bring back to the class.
  • Voting (again): as a whole group, the pupils must present their chosen question to their peers. Then a vote decides which question will be the topic of discussion.
  • Circle time: We ask the pupils to try to answer the question. The children choose who will talk after them and they must start their sentence with “I agree/I disagree” and give justification.
  • Final thoughts: Finally, we ask the children to pass an object around the circle and give a short sentence on their thoughts for the day.

This is designed to last for about forty minutes to an hour and it is very easily adaptable as we simply change the warm up activity and the stimulus to change the lesson. It is a structure that emphasises the idea that pupils can learn to think for themselves, which isn’t a skill that they necessarily learn in their other lessons.

If you are interested in getting involved, please let us know here.



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