Strand 1 - Philosophical Enquiry

The value of critical thinking and philosophy for/with children has become increasingly acknowledged and now has a solid evidence base to support it. Developing communities of philosophical enquiry allows for discussions about questions that matter, and cultivates the skills, dispositions, virtues and attitudes that support students in teachers in learning and enquiring together. That philosophical enquiry is done as a community is important. In this way, children can engage, reflect, examine and explore on their own terms, as they learn to listen and build on one another’s ideas.

It is becoming increasingly important that children and young people feel that their classroom spaces welcome opportunities for them to speak freely, including interrogating questions that matter or that concern them. Philosophical enquiry offers a methodology that allows for a range of questions to be discussed, including those that are controversial, difficult, or sensitive, without reverting either to dogmatism or the ‘everyone’s entitled to their own opinion’ response. Dialogue is essential, in particular in engaging with and exploring idealism, extremism, stories of political violence, and justifications or otherwise. Philosophical enquiry allows for the ‘lived distance’ to enable students to explore these questions more deeply.

This project will introduce participants to the fundamentals of philosophical enquiry, building a community between those more experienced and less experienced in the approach. The aim is to embed the conditions in schools that allow for conversations that matter, including conversations about values, to take place, and to have cultivated the skills, dispositions, and virtues that will enable teachers and students together to explore difficult and complex subject matter.​