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Introducing P4C in Kindergarten in Greece

Author(s): Renia Gasparatou | Maria Kampeza

Journal: Analytic Teaching and Philosophical Praxis
ISSN 0890-5118

Volume: 33;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 72;
Date: 2012;
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The movement of Philosophy for Children starts with M. Lipman in the early ‘70s. University professor Matthew Lipman noticed that his students lacked critical thinking skills. He suggested that, when students reach university age, it is rather late and difficult to teach them how to think. It would be wiser to undertake such a task at a much earlier age. Thus, he proposed the introduction of philosophy in elementary schools. Since then, Philosophy for/with Children (hereafter P4C) has been practiced all around the world. P4C takes up Socrates’ methodology of provoking philosophical conversation (referred to as “Communities of Inquiry") by asking the right questions or telling compelling stories. P4C practitioners employ different versions of such a method. The triggers tend to vary: some facilitators use Lipman’s original philosophical novels; others use whatever story they find intriguing; others walk into the classroom with a direct philosophical question. The dialogue is also performed slightly differently: most practitioners prefer peer-to-peer dialogue, while others use a more structured practice, having students perform different tasks. Nevertheless the basic idea is to rely on a trigger (a story or novel, a poem or song, a question or a thought experiment) in order to initiate discourse on philosophical topics. And the main purpose of this activity is to teach children to think and discuss. Experience and studies have shown that P4C programs contribute to the development of critical thinking, the emotional flourishing of the child, the deepening of the relation between children with their peers and those between children and the adults (teachers and parents). Moreover, communities of enquiry also tend to cultivatedemocratic values. Children learn to defend their opinions using arguments; they are tolerant to new ideas; they change their mind when they are convinced; they ask and give reasons for their views. Despite all the data that support the introduction of such a practice early in ones’ education, in Greece, a country that might be considered the fountainhead of democracy, P4C is rarely implemented. In fact, any coordinated attempts to include the teaching of philosophy to children have been limited to research programs. In this paper, we will describe such a research P4C-pilot-program, which we performed in two kindergartens, in Patras, Greece.
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