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P4C is beyond the P

P4C stands for Philosophy for Children and has been adopted in over 60 countries in the world. However here in the United Kingdom, there seems to be a lack of P4C in primary schools with only a small number of schools opting for it. I guess for many of us when we hear the subject “philosophy” we automatically assume that young children will struggle with these sessions however this is not the case. The idea of philosophy in P4C is an overarching umbrella term which encompasses a range of different subject matters for young people rather than the complexities of Aristotle and Plato. Thanks to the team at Nexus Education, I have been given the opportunity to write on why P4C is beyond the P by drawing on the links and overlaps it has with other subjects in the primary curriculum thus encouraging its usage in more primary schools in the United Kingdom.

Maths and Science
When teaching the subjects of maths and science the general concepts of evidence, knowledge and theory are largely ignored. Due to this when children are carrying out calculations and experiment they do not acknowledge the fact that what they are really doing is proving a range of philosophical theories true.

When discussing stories in primary schools it is common to teach pupils about order of events and characters. However P4C can take this a step further and engage with themes within children’s books. For example a simple story such as ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ can teach us about power, justice and fairness. Other themes in children’s book can range from love to anger. This already gives those transitioning into secondary school a head start as themes are often discussed in secondary literature lessons.

RE, History. Geography
In the humanities strand, primary school students are often taught facts from the world religions, to the catastrophes in the major wars and to the movement of rocks. However how does that link to our world today? P4C can fuse itself with humanities by exhibiting the mengings to these changes in religion, history and the geographic makeup of the earth in understanding the globalised world we live in today.

ICT, DT & Art
The creative subjects are deeply philosophical in the sense that they promote uniqueness and subjective meanings of beauty. For instance when art such as abstract by Pablo Picasso is discussed many children label his paintings negatively. However what they don’t understand that what is perfect in areas such as art and architecture is subjective. This in turn has many links to wider societal phenomena and it is P4C that can bridge this.

It can be quickly assumed that P4C and PSHE are the same thing however this is not the case. The link between these very different branches is that whilst PSHE equips students with basic skills to use in life, P4C stressed the importance of these skills in benefiting an individual’s self. For example a PSHE lesson would tell you that when you grow up you should vote whereas a P4C discussion will dig deeper into this relating it to freedom and values.

Thus, I guess the purpose of this article is not suggesting to replace these subjects with P4C but just exhibit how P4C is not just philosophy but has links to many core subjects from Maths to Art. Philosophy translated is “love of wisdom” and since it is clear all subjects have an element of Philosophy then P4C should be encouraged more in primary schools in the UK. A love of wisdom means, a love of knowledge and a love of knowledge means love of education and if we can teach this to students from young then the future is already looking wiser.

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The author

Farhana has been blogging for Nexus Education since her undergraduate studies. She is an avid champion for Religious Education, Philosophy, Debate and Sociology. Since graduating from the LSE, Farhana completed her teacher training and is now a subject leader in a local secondary school.

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