I have been awarded the NSW Premier’s Early Childhood Teaching Scholarship sponsored by the Early Childhood Council.
The focus of this scholarship is to research, observe and evaluate the best practices of philosophy for children in the early childhood environments in the UK and SCANDINAVIA with a view to introducing the practice of philosophic inquiry (P4C) to early childhood teachers and to encourage the inclusion P4C as a module in Early Childhood Learning Institutions.
The new Australian curriculum (ACARA 2014) recognised the place of ‘critical and creative thinking’ (CCT) as an essential skill set for living and working in the 21st century and places creative and critical thinking as one of seven cross-curricula general capabilities. According to ACARA, the development of student’s thinking tools is as important as content delivery. However it does not endorse or propose any particular methodology to achieve CCT nor suggest how to teach critical and creative thinking nor how to promote thinking tools.
Philosophic Inquiry for Children (P4C) has an enviable track record for promoting higher order thinking in young children. Using the strategies of collaborative classroom dialogue contributes not only to the ethical understandings but there is a direct correlation that P4C has a significant impact on student achievement. P4C has been implemented across all ages in many countries.
This study tour will view both best practices at delivering ‘critical and creative thinking’ in early childhood learning centres and gather information on the delivery of critical and creative thinking practices at the preservice level for Early Childhood Educators.
What do I hope from this scholarship?
The introduction of philosophy in Early Childhood centres will enable young children from three upwards to develop skills to form their own ideas and have the confidence and resilience to speak up for what they believe.
If a Philosophy program was implemented in Early Childhood Centres we could expect four-year-old students to be
- confident ‘decision makers’ able to give reasons for their choices
- good listeners and able to take ideas from other children,
- good speakers able to present their views in a reasoned and reasonable way
- good questioners able to present and ponder on questions that don’t have one answer
My expectation is that the report will help stimulate the inclusion of philosophic methodology as part of the practice in all early childhood institutions.