James Nottingham's Blog

Reflections from a World of Education

2 Circles for P4C

Facilitating Philosophy for Children (P4C) can be a challenge with average class sizes in the UK of 30 but a possible solution is to have 2 circles of children – an inner and an outer circle.

Whilst half the children sit in the inner circle engaging in the community of inquiry, the other half sit in an outer circle mind-mapping or in some way recording what is being investigated by the other children. Every 10 minutes or so, the groups swap over. Children partner up, one from each group, so that they can compare notes and respond to each other’s thoughts.

This idea was developed in Berwick by Mary-Rose Blythe, deputy head at Holy Trinity First School, and myself as a way to ensure that the deaf children at the school didn’t miss out on the wonderful experience of P4C. However, we also found that ALL children enjoyed the opportunity for thinking/recording time whilst in the outer circle and the increased opportunity to talk whilst in the inner circle. Furthermore, research by the Universities of Newcastle and Sunderland noted that this combination of P4C and cognitive mapping helped children make more progress in their learning when compared with taking part in just one of these approaches. Try it out and let us know how it goes! JN

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