SAPERE annual conference 2018: Creative and imaginative possibilities for P4C

The theme of SAPERE’s annual conference this year is Transforming Teaching And Learning In Your Educational Setting. The conference, which takes place on Thursday 29 November at Conference Aston in Birmingham, will offer P4C ideas, tips, suggestions and inspiration to take back to your classroom and is suitable for teachers and educators at all levels from EYFS to secondary.

The conference will kick off with a keynote session with leading P4C figures Joanna Haynes, Karin Murris and Sara Stanley who will co-present and co-facilitate an enquiry on Literature and Philosophy with Children, Young People and Adults.

Here they share an insight into how their thought-provoking session will engage and involve conference delegates in practising P4C.

‘We know that a wide range of literature forms the starting point for many P4C lessons and that the narrative form of many P4C resources is a very important part of what makes it such a distinctive approach to philosophising. Good stories both provoke questioning and provide us with rich examples that we can work with in our enquiries. Our panel of linked presentations will explore creative and imaginative possibilities for connecting literature and philosophical enquiry, whatever the age, stage or context of learning.

‘We know that a wide range of practitioners, trainers and educators will be attending the conference. We plan to engage everyone in an active, enquiry-based keynote session which will express those distinctive characteristics of P4C that we seek to espouse: radical openness, thought-provoking material and philosophical questioning, emotional involvement and participation in meaningful dialogue. Rather than talk about P4C, we want to practise P4C with conference attendees.

‘The philosophy underpinning P4C raises profound questions about children, young people and practices of thinking and dialogue. We will be examining pressing issues in education, including the view of child and young person as less than fully human (Murris, 2016). This viewpoint, we argue, is one that the practice of P4C should always bring into question.

Our panel of linked presentations will explore creative and imaginative possibilities for connecting literature and philosophical enquiry, whatever the age, stage or context of learning.

‘Through reference to the research project, we explore what happened in a Grade 2 classroom in Cape Town when we challenged the what, how and why of the education system in South Africa. As in many other countries, we argue that this system often limits opportunities for children to ask questions, use imagination and critical thinking of any sort.

‘Working with this research material, generated and focused on a philosophical literacy lesson led by Sara, with the picture book How to Find Gold (2016) by Viviane Schwarz, we will be sharing some of our practices and inviting participants to extend and develop the playful philosophical possibilities offered by this example. Working between small group discussion and enquiry among the audience as a whole, participants will be able to think about and discuss possibilities for putting such ideas to work in different settings – not to repeat or replicate what we present, but to think how these ideas might inform your practice.

‘Picture book author and illustrator Viviane Schwarz will present a recorded reading of the story stimulus used in this project. We hope that this will be a strong starting point from which to launch enquiry into what happens when educators consider different ways of understanding and responding to children’s thinking, moving ‘beyond words’. These analyses include taking into account the material environment entangled with the teaching and learning that happens in classrooms.

‘We aim to encourage the inclusion of additional visual material in our philosophical ‘resources’ and challenge overly prescriptive choices of starting points for P4C. The session will draw participants into a community of enquiry with examples and provocations drawn from literature, philosophical enquiry and from classroom research.

Rather than talk about P4C, we want to practise P4C with conference attendees.

‘We will show that this approach to unfolding P4C is relevant for all phases, for teacher education and for educators working in informal settings. We share a love of visual art, provocative stories and dynamic, inventive post-human approaches to teaching, learning and boundary-breaking philosophical enquiry. We believe that philosophical enquiry is an intra-generational practice: a dialogue between all ages and involving more than words. Our experience suggests that we can approach P4C in a wide variety of ways and extend enquiry through a wide variety of different media and activities. These expand opportunities for what participation means. They draw our attention to practical and embodied aspects of philosophy, such as how different spaces work, our relations with each other and our intra-actions with human and non-human bodies.

Reading ‘classrooms’ differently
4.1 The 'classroom'JPEG (00000002)

‘The presentation will draw on a two-year book project which was part of a National Research Foundation of South Africa-funded research project, led by Karin, with a team of international collaborators from all around the world. If you would like to explore some of the ideas about childhood, philosophy and education generated within this research project, please go to

‘This research has resulted in a collection of writing for the book Literacies, Literature and Learning: Reading Classrooms Differently, edited by Karin Murris and Joanna Haynes, and published by Routledge in June 2018. Sara Stanley taught the philosophical literacy lesson, collected data and contributed to a chapter of the book. It includes many other co-authors, teachers, students and academics from different parts of the world, all analysing one single P4C lesson.

About Joanna Haynes, Karin Murris and Sara Stanley

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‘We have known one another and worked together with Philosophy with Children in different ways and places for around 25 years. Our experience includes many hours of classroom practice with children and young people, in nurseries, primary and secondary schools, as well as in informal and community-based settings nationally and internationally. We have all been involved in teacher education and continuing professional development, SAPERE training and school-based courses. We each have special interests and concerns with P4C and we have found interesting and exciting ways to make these overlap in our practice and in our publications and resources. We have learned so much from each other. We write for different audiences and we are actively engaged in research and innovation in our own practice and with students and colleagues.’

Book your place at SAPERE’s conference here.

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