Thinking Moves - Metacognition Made Simple
I've been working so much, along with my DialogueWorks colleagues Bob House & Roger Sutcliffe, on Thinking Moves over the past couple of years and it's wonderful to see so many people and schools adopting this apporoach. More training courses are being announced on the DialogueWorks website, along with P4C Plus and Whole School Values - Whole Person Virtues courses. Contact me here or there for details!
Aug 29, 2:07 PM
A very different start to the new year
My best wishes go out to everyone who has started, or is about to start, their new school year. I'm fortunate to have worked in schools around the world and all are concerned with getting students back to school but I know the reservations that come with that.
I've spent the majority of the school closure time running courses online and developing materials but I'm very happily having a return to training in front of teachers rather than in front of a screen, starting at the beginning of September. That said, the new normal has highlighted the various benefits of online training so I'm continuing with that too (see the DialogueWorks website for details).
I'm very much looking forward to continuing my work with all the schools I've been fortunate to be involved with over the years. Needless to say, don't hesitate to be in touch if you need any advice.
In the meantime, have a happy, safe and enjoyable reunion!
Aug 29, 1:34 PM
Welcome to THE PHILOSOPHY FOR SCHOOLS website.
Hopefully you’ll find the answer to everything you need to know in here but if not, you’ll at least be able to get hold of me through my contact page.
Philosophy for Schools is all about encouraging young people to think, through the approach of Philosophy for Children (P4C). But then, we’re all thinking all the time, surely?
Just try this experiment. Find a really quiet place, make yourself comfortable, close your eyes, count to ten and try not to think for a whole minute. Did you manage it? Or did you find yourself thinking all kinds of things?
So – is there ever a time when you’re not thinking?
What about when you sleep – do you stop thinking then? And if you do think you stop thinking when you’re asleep, then what are dreams? Ah, I hear you say, you don’t dream all night, so maybe you’re not thinking in the in-between bits. But our brain is still working, surely? So does this ‘working’ that our brain does count as thinking? Or is ‘thinking’ something different, and if so, in what way?
I guess, if you’ve got this far, that you’re thinking about thinking, which is just what Philosophy for Schools encourages children to do. When we really think about something, we’re trying to make sense of it, and isn’t that really what education should be all about? We have a big, wide world that’s changing faster than ever, so how can we possibly give our children all the knowledge they’ll need by the time they’ve left education? What we can do, though, is give them the tools to think better when they’re faced with new and possibly challenging situations.
Thankfully, this has well-documented benefits across the whole curriculum. Children who engage in regular philosophical enquiry, for example, often do better generally. When it’s done within subject areas however, it becomes a very powerful way to promote understanding.
This approach also encourages quieter children to engage, as the class develops as a community of enquiry. Those identified as less able find that they can hold their own with even the brightest of their peers; the ‘quiet coasters’ come out of their shell; high quality dialogue facilitated in a caring and collaborative atmosphere challenges everyone appropriately and relationships improve as children listen to each other and agree and disagree respectfully.
This isn’t only the confine of older children either - I’ve had great times using P4C with children from Nursery right through to Secondary.
Check out the link at the top of the page for ‘Socrates for Six Year Olds’, especially the part that shows the young children after 5 months of regular philosophical enquiry – incredible!
Contact me if you’d like to find out more about the transformational potential of Philosophy for Children.’
KIDS’ THOUGHTS ABOUT P4C
It helps you look deeper into stories and ask better questions.
It makes you understand more and helps you socially.
When you read a book in philosophy class you realise there’s more in the book than you thought.
It helps you become less shy and gets you talking to those you might not talk to.
Ben (a new boy in the class)
It helps you think about things you wouldn’t normally think about in life. You realise in philosophy that there are more things to think about.
It reveals your opinions to others.
Socrates for 6 Year Olds
Check out the wonderful BBC documentary ‘Socrates for 6 Year Olds’ here for a glimpse into why Matthew Lipman came about to develop P4C and to see some 6 year olds in action – quite amazing!
PAWS FOR THOUGHT
Here’s Django and Eric. Now, Django is a llama, and Eric is a cat, but how do we know that? I’m sure you knew Eric was a cat before I told you, but how did you know that? Is it because you’ve experienced other, similar animals to Eric and you’re associating the qualities of all the other cats you’ve seen to him, thereby concluding that he’s a cat? If so, what is it about a cat that makes it a cat? And is there anything exclusively cat-specific about all cats that differentiates them from any other kind of animal? For example, if I showed you a picture of a cat and a dog, could you tell me the difference between them? Or doesn’t it matter, so long as you just know there’s a difference?
What about Django? Did you know he was a llama before I told you? Have you ever met a llama in real life? Or are you just trusting me to tell you the truth? (He is a llama, by the way – honest!).
We’re dealing here primarily with the question of ‘how do we know what we know?’ which is one of the fundamental areas of philosophy – epistemology. Thankfully, even the combined force of every great thinker since Plato hasn’t given us a definitive answer, which makes me feel better about my feeble mental fumblings, but it does serve to show that there are some things that are central to our lives that aren’t so clear cut when we think about them. Exploration of concepts such as this provide us with wonderful opportunities to get our children working together to make more sense of the world they live in.
And what do you think Django thinks Eric is? A cat? Or a different kind of llama? Maybe I’ll ask him one day…