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#931 Philosophy Sessions – Harwich Community Primary School & Nursery

Debbie Watts

What did we do?

The year 6 class had several behavioural issues which were affecting the rest of the class. The main issues were calling out, making silly noises, trying to be the class clown (competing for this).

  • My goal was to try and get them to listen to each other and let others speak and have their own opinions.
  • We began a philosophy lesson choosing subjects to debate that could be related to the problems that were arising in class. We started with ‘What makes a good person? Following the rules or making people happy?’ This then enabled further questions for the coming weeks as they all felt that making people happy rather than following the rules.

“Even though I had my own opinion, I could change it after listening to others.”

A chills response to a philosophy session.

Summary of impact

The main focus of the study was to try and make the children look at their behaviour and how they could deal with. During the sessions as they went on the focus did change slightly.

During the first session the philosophical question asked was: What makes a good person? Following the rules or making people happy?

They nearly all felt that making people happy was far better than sticking to the rules. They were asked if they were all given cakes would they be happy? Yes. What if the cakes had been stolen? Half said that was not right and wouldn’t eat them, the other half said they would as they had not been the one who stole them.

Second session was regarding; are rules the same as laws? This session was more debated as majority of the felt it was the parents’ fault of how they had been brought up. One child did say if he had been nicer to his mum then that would make him nicer in the future towards a girlfriend/wife.

By the end of all the sessions, they did all work together and gave each other time to share their opinions. This would sometimes change their own opinions as they had not thought of specific reasons to help with changing their minds. Last session went very well. Great debates even between friends, who would all normally be the same. In the end it showed that the children could listen to others and it also made them more aware of listening to each other.

Steps taken

The main focus of identifying the problem was the behaviour in Year 6 class. This included, lack of listening, disruption, calling out and lack of respect to name a few. Also, most of them had low attainment levels and this would possibly help with their attention span and focus to increase their attainment. I look at philosophy as an intervention as this would support their listening skills, own opinions and less calling out. There are lots of philosophical questions in various places, etc., internet, books etc. Most of the time we did not need any further resources, as the sessions were question based.

What would we do differently

This was done with a group of 10 children to help with their behaviour issues. This was quite difficult at times but did work when 2 members of staff were able to join. One to keep the discussion going and another to give behaviour support. I would now try this as a whole class lesson, earlier in the Year groups, so they could understand others opinions from an earlier age.

Resources required

To implement these sessions, I completed training on what to do and expect from the sessions. It also took some time to research to find suitable questions to pose and any added stimuli. This is the most time that is taking up to find these questions/stimuli. Once these have been obtained there is not much added time. I did not use additional resources when completing the sessions, so this was at no cost. I needed access to a laptop & internet connection to get these sessions set up. In future it will be able to combine with class sessions as a focused discussion.

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Harwich Community Primary School & Nursery

Debbie Watts

Family Liaison Officer