Enacting dialogue: the impact of promoting Philosophy for Children on the literate thinking of identified poor readers, aged 10.

Language and Education 24 (6):459-472 (2010)
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The Philosophy for Children in Schools Project (P4CISP) is a research project to monitor and evaluate the impact of Philosophy for Children (P4C) on classroom practices. In this paper the impact of P4C on the thinking skills of you children aged 10 is examined. Standardised tests indicated the children had below-average reading ages. The pupils were video recorded while engaged in discussion of questions they had formulated themselves in response to a series of texts in preparation for a community of philosophical enquire. Group discussions were analysed, paying attention to verbal and non-verbal communication. We argue that reading scores do not necessarily indicate inability to engage in literate thinking. When dialogic approaches are used and pupils are given opportunities to work in small group to formulate their own questions and evaluate their potential for generating enquiry, they demonstrate their ability to use higher-order language skills. Dialogic approaches can challenge the hegemonic impact of standardised testing that dominates modern schooling A dialogic approach to teaching listens to pupil voice and has the potential to change how adults view children and contribute to an epistemological paradigm shift away from positivism towards dialogism.

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