In 2013, an early thinking project was conceived within DGMT’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) portfolio, in response to our focus on increasing understanding of stimulation for early learning in the ECD sector. Developed in association with Prof. Karin Murris of the UCT School of Education (pioneer of the use of picture books in Philosophy for children -P4C) and Dr Carole Bloch of PRAESA, director of the Nal’ibali national reading campaign, the project centred on piloting the use of an innovative approach to developing early thinking skills with children aged 3-5 years.
Based broadly on the Philosophy for Children approach, the programme was inspired by the work of Sara Stanley, who has adapted and used this approach extensively in early years settings, and who travelled to Cape Town to lead training workshops with ECD practitioners and demonstration modelling sessions.
Philosophy for Children (P4C) is an approach to learning, based on philosophical principles, which is designed to develop children’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills – including reasoning, reflection, curiosity and creative questioning – as well as to develop their ability to work collaboratively and carefully. It aims to develop spaces in which children’s ideas are unearthed and listened to, taking them seriously as enquiring thinkers and meaning makers and giving them space to ask the questions and develop their thinking. It is also an exciting way of playing with concepts that helps to scaffold critical thinking and enable children to engage positively with school content.
This post offers access to videos of Sara Stanley and Narelle Arcidiacono illustrating early thinking sessions with South African children that really helps to build understanding of this innovative approach:
Video one: Narelle Arcidiacono held a series of Dramatic Philosophy workshops in Cape Town in August 2013. This film was shot while observing her work with a group of 5-6 year olds at Shereen’s Montessori in Woodstock.
Video 2: A video created from workshops facilitated by Sara Stanely with children from Lavender Hill, Vrygrond and Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa.
Video 3: This video shows the first day of a Philosophy for Children workshop where Sara Stanley illustrates an early thinking session in a South African ECD setting. It gives insight into how to develop the required listening and enquiry skills. Importantly it illustrates the critical role of the teacher or practitioner as facilitator, supporting and guiding (but not directing) an enquiry.
For more information on Philosophy for Children and our Early Thinking Project, have a look at a learning brief developed by the Project Organiser, Fiona Burt here.