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30 April 2021

‘Wisdom begins in Wonder’ Socrates

 ‘Wisdom begins in Wonder’ Socrates


During Pupil Voice and Wellbeing time on a Friday, Year 1-8 have been exploring ‘P4C’ (Philosophy for Children) to drive our school aims and enhance our focus on pupil independence and enquiry-led learning.The focus moves from traditional, didactic teacher-centred learning to the pupils becoming ‘co-enquirers’ who build on each other’s ideas to pursue shared (as opposed to competitive) thinking.


Furthermore, P4C develops Socratic questioning, to wonder and build dialogue about concepts that matter. Often described as ‘big questions’ or questions about ‘big ideas’, it is an approach which impacts positively on children’s social, emotional, as well as intellectual development by relating to their everyday experiences.


So far, pupils at The Hampshire School Chelsea have constructed philosophical questions about key concepts such as: truth, beauty, value, knowledge, family, anger, jealousy and altruism. In addition, I had the pleasure of teaching Year 2 recently. We used a well known short story as a stimulus. The children reflected on the story and then built questions in small groups - is arguing ever a good thing to do? When could getting what you want be a bad thing?. After the group question building, Year 2 voted for ‘is behaviour particularly important in today’s society? to debate in detail. It is at this point that the skills of argument building and how to listen and respond accordingly to the view of others occur. In terms of teacher input, the pupils are gently supported in this process with a list of key question stems and phrases that help to embed the key structures for successful debate and reasoning.   


To conclude, the wider benefits to P4C are well documented. The most recent research by the Education Endowment Fund states that pupils experiencing P4C on the curriculum make an additional 3 months progress in Reading and maths. In addition, the benefit to 11+ interview practice has also been well documented as well as the ability to think critically in all areas of the curriculum in order to enhance the learning experience.


It is an exciting development at school and next time that you have a few spare minutes, feel free to ask your child a philosophical question about the world around us - you will be amazed by their response!


Mr McSherry



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The Hampshire School Chelsea

15 Manresa Road, Chelsea
London, SW3 6NB

Tel: +44[0] 207 352 7077