Thinking Philosophically Across the School

By Kemble Elliott (Director of Creative and Critical Thinking)


With the recent introduction to P4C (Philosophy for Children) at Redhill, there has been a growing interest in exploring teaching and learning through the lens of philosophical thinking, as a way to deepen knowledge and understanding, and to consciously introduce metacognitive and self-reflexive practice.

P4C is a methodology that engages students in their learning experiences by teaching them to analyse and reflect on their own thinking, as well as that of others. Using a variety of critical thinking tools (such as creating a concept line to analyse a concept, or Venn diagrams to compare and contrast two aspects of the same idea) students are taken through a process of working in small groups, and individually, to develop their own thinking.  This culminates in a Community of Enquiry, where a topic (often linked to aspects of the curriculum) is explored for its conceptual relevance, rather than only content and skills. In a Community of Enquiry students are trained to listen with concentration and purpose, focusing on the thoughts of other students, as a means to build their own understanding of a concept.

Thus far, parents have been introduced to the tenets of P4C through two information evenings, where they explored the concepts of fairness and equality from various perspectives.  In History (Grade 10) students have examined aspects of xenophobia using a picture book resource called The Island (by Armin Greder). Grade 10 English students will be examining the concepts of fate and ambition in Macbeth in the near future.  Grade 5s will be looking at luck and self-determination through Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl) and Grade 4s have begun to examine what makes poetry in an enquiry. Grade 8s will be given an opportunity to develop their P4C skills in their option lessons throughout the year. They will be examining gender bias through, The Piggy Book (Anthony Browne).

Upcoming P4C lessons are being planned for Music (Grade 10) and Matric Art (which will focus on the critical thinking needed to examine Conceptual Art).

Redhill also recently hosted the Mindboggles meeting for Gauteng.  Mindboggles is the organisation for P4C practitioners who share best practice.  As practitioners they are also encouraged to participate in enquiries and recently explored the concepts of beauty and art.

Throughout the year, a number of teachers in each of the phases of the school (Pre-Primary, Intermediate, Senior and Further Education and Training – FET) will be trained in Level 1 P4C, which will enable them to run enquiries with the children they teach, regardless of the subject or age group. We look forward to seeing the growing skills of our staff and students as the year progresses and hope to see evidence of their growth in metacognitive reasoning and self-reflexivity.



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