Monday, February 3

Teaching Children How To Think

One of the exciting things about this project has been how it's got the kids thinking.   I've already described one session when they decided whether or not to go to war.  And they were fascinated by the idea of nurses and doctors helping "enemies" - in other words, was their training to heal more important than their political beliefs?  Quite big ideas for ten year olds, but discussing the subject with the Irish nurse, Deirdre, absorbed them.

The children sometimes wanted to discuss issues which bothered them. Some had to deal with difficult issues every day.  Drugs, parents who cannot cope, gangs, violence. But in school, though, teachers must give a moral lead to encourage kids to think along the "right" lines.  True -  but unless you can discuss an issue in a truly non judgmental way, many of the harder issues get pushed under the carpet and not dealt with at all.

A way around this is to teach children how to think.  That's why I'm interested in Philosophy for Children, or P4C. which produces resources to help kids to think in an organised way.   I'm glad my grammar-school education taught me how to think critically.  It's so important, when information zings around about everything, but few people seem to know whether that information is true, or sensible or not.

Years ago Penguin Education put out a wonderful series of books called "Connexions" which dealt with issues of interest to kids.  They're long out of print, although you can find second hand copies around.

There were lots of different topics in a lively, extensively illustrated and readable format,  beautifully visually designed.  I still think they are wonderful - if only someone would update and reissue them.