Sara and I were invited to run a workshop at the SAPERE (Society for Advancing Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education)

Here are some of the quotes from the evaluation forms that SAPERE asked delegates to do:

“Outstanding !  Answered many of the questions I am asked by Level 1 participants”

Excellent! Really practical, lots of tips to take away – a whole way into P4C for young children”

Incredibly practical and useful, lots of techniques I can use to develop P4C in the early years.  Both practitioners were informative and they offered real developed approaches, very hands on”

Fabulous – practical and interesting”

Inspirational, lots of ideas to take away”

Very relevant, excellent made much clearer and encouraged more play and experimentation”

Excellent, familiar with ideas but made real by getting it from horse’s mouth. Another inspiring presentation”

Excellent  workshop – confirmed my view of how important it is to develop the skills of P4C with younger children and indeed for teachers and trainers to get as much experience as possible in working and practising P4C with younger children in this way – thank you.”

Gave an excellent picture of P4C in Early Years. Lots of good practical ideas supported by a good rationale – fab.”

Who are SAPERE?

The trainers who set up SAPERE, including Karin Murris and Roger Stcliffe trained with Matthew Lipman in America and brought P4C over to England.  Sara and I trained with Karin and Roger and still communicate from time to time, but they are difficult to track down as they spend most of their time abroad.

However it was lovely to see Lizzy, both Alisons, Chris and Sara as familiar faces that we haven’t seen for a time.  

Keynote Speech

It started off with a Keynote speech from Mick Waters who talked about howP4C can fit into a changing curriculum.

 Mick Waters  is the former director of curriculum at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the architect of the latest secondary curriculum.  He has been described as “the teachers’ hero”, “the biggest champion for children out there” and even as “the Mick Jagger of education”, though he says that was the result of a journalist’s mishearing.

He said that he was optimistic about the future. He explained how P4C was an integral part of the curriculum and how enquiry should run through a child’s education whatever the age.

Our Workshop: P4C in the Early Years

Sara and I went on to do our workshop on P4C in the Early Years, which we were told was over subscribed – I think this is due to the fact that many Early Years teachers find it hard to see how the P4C model relates to their practice.  However, due to making all the workshops viable the group was small. We really enjoyed working with the group as they were experienced and very keen!!

The workshop was short so we reluctantly had to do alot of talking through ideas rather than get delegates to do activities themselves.   Sara started with talking about the work she does with her Nursery children, how she starts with the very simple starting points of making decisions and giving reasons.  She talked about her morning question board and how parents can be involved.  Some of these ideas are on the website if you look in the Question Board category. 

She also talked about how Philosophical dialogues came out of the children’s play, role-play and stories.  The delegates were fascinated by the books full of hastily written down stories that Sara and her team keeps as records of their play and thinking.  Sara explained how a story a child tells can raise a question that leads to mini dialogues.  She described issues of behaviour that have led to philosophical discussion about the nature of good and bad, right and wrong. 

All this is outlined in her new book:

Why think? – published by Continuum Press in May 2012

I went on to decribe the skills that the children need as they develop further and the use of concept cards to help with questioning.  I talked about how a very simple thinking circle can introduce children to the need to think, talk their thinking – which is in turn listened to and then thought about.

All in all the workshop went very well and it was great to work with practitioners who had had alot of experience of working in P4C, as we mostly work with people fairly new to it.

The last of the quotes made us particularly happy, as it came from a woman who trains pratcioners but has little experience of Early Years:

Lots of visual stimuli and examples of practice, very practical. Left the workshop wanting to retrain in early years.  Very good for my practitioners.”

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