IB connections

As stated on the home page, this site was originally intended to promote P4C in IB, and IB candidate, schools, and the case for this remains strong.

Best practice of P4C  – in a Community of Philosophical Inquiry conducted by a trained facilitator – has been shown time and again to improve young people’s reasoning and communication skills, not to mention their self-respect and respect for others. These are results that any school would appreciate.

What makes P4C particularly appropriate for IB schools, though, is its practice, pure and simple, of inquiry – which is at the heart of the IB curriculum at all levels. After the P4C Level 1 courses that I piloted in IB schools during 2017, every teacher reported how much they had appreciated what the courses had taught them about the practice of inquiry.

Part of this is due to the space that P4C creates for open inquiry in response to an unexpected stimulus (or provocation, in IB language).

Without practice in open inquiry, where the pupils make and choose their own questions for discussion, the spirit of inquiry can fade away. With it, every lesson can be seen by pupils as an opportunity to ask questions – whether (importantly) questions of meaning or value judgement, or questions seeking information.

Another part of it is due to the practice and guidance that teachers get in philosophical facilitation moves that widen or deepen inquiry, e.g. encouraging pupils to elaborate or elucidate their accounts.

Good philosophical teaching, of course, relies heavily upon such skills of facilitation, which also include keeping dialogue constructive, focussing on concept connections, drawing on relevant reflections, pushing for reasons, etc.

But the best philosophical teacher will not neglect the 6th strand, namely the valuing of virtues. And in this respect P4C / philosophical teaching again chimes very well with the espoused aims of the IB, not least those encapsulated in the Learner Profile and Attitudes.

To be honest, the IB lists do not quite correspond to my preferred lists, partly because mine distinguish more clearly between sorts of virtues. But I am more supportive than critical of them. I have seen how they make an impact on student learning.

My strong belief, however, is that they would make even more impact if they were taught and learnt philosophically – ending up with greater understanding and appreciation of what are, in fact, very complex concepts. (This applies just as much to the cross-curricular concept of International-mindedness, about which I write more here.)

I will be making and modelling philosophical exercises to help ‘stretch’ all of these concepts, and you can download samples on Inquiry and Reflection here. If you would like more information and guidance about the Learner Profile and Attitudes, please don’t hesitate to send me an email on rogersutcliffe@outlook.com.

Copyright © 2017, Roger Sutcliffe, All rights reserved