Birmingham School Philosothon, March 2017

On Wednesday 15th March 2017, ninety of the best philosophical minds in Birmingham met at Yardley Wood Community Primary School to attend the city’s first ever inter-school Philosothon. The 7-11 year olds displayed critical, caring, creative and collaborative (‘4C’) thinking skills as they discussed key questions arising from Robert Munsch’s Paper Bag Princess. Fabulous organisation by Lucy Hudson of Yardley Wood resulted in the children being split into four different groups to explore the big philosophical ideas, such as human rights, gender stereotypes, poverty, wealth and selfishness.

The children who attended the event were from six different local primary schools and it was brilliant to share enthusiasm for philosophy and deeper thinking with one another. Savannah said that she really liked the morning as it gave them chance to really think about things. Other children said that they liked holding enquiries with new people and that working with children you didn’t know helped build confidence.

Nick Chandley introduced the event and held an awards ceremony for children who demonstrated critical, creative, collaborative and caring thinking. Lennon, of Yardley Wood, thought creatively in extending his own and other’s ideas and suggesting alternative points of view. Abbie, of Michael Drayton, showed good critical thinking by supporting her thoughts with good reasons and evidence. Megan, of Billesley Primary, was very good at listening to others and responding appropriately, key caring thinking skills. Jessica, of Allens Croft, demonstrated how to build upon the ideas of others, demonstrating great collaborative thinking. Omnia, of The Oaks, even brought in a little of Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech! Lillie, of Hazel Oak School, was keen to tell us that we shouldn’t judge people by how they look. These are just a few examples, but every single one of the children contributed brilliantly and showed good ‘4C’ thinking.

The staff that attended were very quick to relay their responses. Mark Sheehan, of The Oaks, said, ‘I’d like to say thanks to everyone else as well on behalf of The Oaks. The children thoroughly enjoyed it and didn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the day. It was fantastic to see how confident all the children were especially around children from other schools. We look forward to the next one.

Jacinta Sing, of Hazel Oaks School, added, Thank you for such an amazing experience – our children had a wonderful time and I would also like to say how great pupils from other schools were when accepting our pupils and the extra help they may have needed. It was inclusion in action!’

Trisha Henley, of Michael Drayton School, said that the children absolutely loved it and Asima Iqbal, of Billesley Primary, said ‘What a fantastic opportunity for our children, it was so nice to see so many young children justify their viewpoint so passionately.’

Cath Palgrave, of Allens Croft, emailed to say ‘what an amazing day! I would like to say a big thank you from Allens Croft. All the children absolutely loved it and they all came back to lunch saying they had made new friends. We would love this to happen again and be part of it.’

The message from Ben Turner, headteacher of Yardley Wood, ‘It was a pleasure to host the event. I’d like to add that the children who attended were a credit to their respective schools.’

The Philosothon was a resounding success, therefore, and one that will surely be repeated. There’s a growing network of schools in Birmingham and surrounds that are trained in P4C that are keen to come together to share good practice, support each other and develop other such events. Any schools not currently involved are more than welcome to join and can contact Nick at nick@philosophyforschools.co.uk for more details.

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