What is Philosophical Enquiry?
It would be easy to dismiss philosophical enquiry (Philosophy for Children - P4C) as just another 'bright idea' in the never-ending stream of educational initiatives, but this would be to dismiss a powerful pedagogy that traces it's historical roots back to Socrates. Despite this link, the first important thing to say about it is that it is not about philosophers or just philosophical theories - it is about an approach to learning that allows people to explore their own thinking and that of others, in fact practical philosophy! In more modern times it has links to the ideas of Dewey, Lipman, Vygotsky and Bruner and the social construction of meaning - making sense of the world and our place in it.
Philosophical enquiry is set in the present - NOW - where questions abound. Dialogue is at the heart of the process, and as young people engage in philosophical enquiry they are searching for meaning and trying to make sense of things. They are being cognitively challenged in a REAL context - their own! This process strengthens critical thinking and reasoning skills and builds confidence and self esteem.
The remarkable thing about this method is that it works at any level and with any group. From 6 year olds to adults, from private schools to state schools in any area, from the UK to rural India, Grenada, South Korea - it works with the common elements of our humanity regardless of race, gender or culture.
In one five year study (see 'Research Evidence') results showed that after one hour of philosophical enquiry a week for a year -
* There were significant measurable improvements in cognitive abilities
* Pupils were more aware of their own feeling and those of others (more emotionally intelligent)
* Pupils' self-esteem and confidence rose
* Classroom behaviour improved
* The gains were fully sustained after two years at secondary school despite no further P4C
Here is a link to a more in-depth description of philosophical enquiry