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Student and teacher outcomes from participating in a Philosophy for Children program: Volunteer ethics teachers’ perspectives

Authors:

Gianni Zappalà ,

Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion, University of Technology Sydney, AU
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Ciara Smyth

Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, AU
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Abstract

Despite the growth of philosophy for/with children (P4C) over the last five decades, its legitimacy remains contested. Key themes within the P4C literature are the potential learning outcomes for children as well as possible personal and professional development benefits for those that teach it. The literature on the former, while extensive, presents a mixed picture and highlights the challenges inherent in determining the impact of P4C on learning outcomes. The literature on the latter, while little explored, may provide valuable insights for teacher professional development. Unlike much of the literature, this paper examines the impact of P4C from the P4C educators’ perspective. The paper presents the findings from a pilot study of volunteer teachers with the Primary Ethics program in Sydney, Australia. Two key findings emerged. First, ethics teachers felt they were making a material and positive difference to the children they taught, which included: the development of critical thinking and reasoning skills; increased confidence to express themselves; and enjoyment derived from class discussions. Second, teachers that use a philosophical and a community of inquiry approach with their students may themselves become more reflective and engage in critical thinking and ethical reasoning.

How to Cite: Zappalà, G. and Smyth, C., 2021. Student and teacher outcomes from participating in a Philosophy for Children program: Volunteer ethics teachers’ perspectives. Journal of Philosophy in Schools, 8(1), pp.104–128.
Published on 17 Aug 2021.
Peer Reviewed

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