- 12 Nov 2020
At Byron College we believe that philosophy underlies all academic principles and fosters critical thinking in a way that empowers students to look at the world they live in from a just and fair perspective that starts with the premise that we are all equal and all life on Earth is precious and to be respected.
Children are natural philosophers. Their thoughts are original, they look at the world through fresh eyes and seek answers by questioning everything. Philosophy for Children ( P4C) is a weekly class for all Key Stage 2 students that channels this innocence and curiosity through regular dialogue on issues, feelings and thoughts that help our students to become reflective, self-reliant and systematic critical thinkers. The classes foster respect for diversity, empathy and the crucial understanding of how to use reason to resolve disagreements.
Through storytelling and group problem solving the children are encouraged to express concerns prioritise, create questions and to think deeply. Philosophising helps to develop greater self confidence and judgement. Students learn that there are no right or wrong answers in Philosophy which liberates even the most reluctant of children. They learn to listen to others and evaluate opinions and they learn that questioning supports a greater understanding of the world around them. As the sessions progress students become more articulate and better able to analyse their own feelings and those of their peers developing not only a greater empathy but an awareness that their own behaviour, as well as collective behaviour, has consequences on others.
Feelings are particularly difficult for children to recognize in themselves and to articulate. Student feedback from Year 3 students include comments like “ I never like talking about my feelings but P4C helps me,” “ I feel different every single day like happy, frustrated, angry, sad and satisfied and P4C helps me choose” and” P4C is making it easier for me to talk about myself”.
When asked what they learn in P4C, Year 3 responses include, to think before I answer; it is okay to be different, I learn to listen, I have learnt about friendship, to be honest, to be a good person, to look on the bright side.
Year 4 comments on P4C include“, I have learnt how to think, how to talk and how to listen,” “ I have learnt to look at things from a different angle, talk about feelings and to be fair.
World Philosophy Day
In 2017 UNESCO recognised Byron College’s first ever whole school event celebrating World Philosophy Day as one of only two official school activities worldwide.
Philosophical discussions ranging from the meaning of happiness, the’ theory of universal flux and human perception and the nature of reality were held under the olive trees on Pynxa Hill, an area of great natural beauty and historical significance as the birth place of democracy. The inspirational backdrop of the Acropolis and sitting in groups on ancient stones and rocks, where some of the greatest philosophers of Ancient Greece had once sat, led our students to feel a sense of continuum, awe, freedom and empowerment.
The annual event has now become an established Byron College tradition and has expanded to our students holding discussion at the multitude of inspirational ancient sites that are in, or surround, Athens. Every year, in landscapes of astounding natural beauty and ancient ruins, these discussions have an overall theme including Man and Nature in 2019 and in 2020 Freedom.