Website samples and some extras

Intentions

I don’t want to add to the bombardment of information people are getting at the moment. I’ll work on this and other pages for you in the coming weeks. I’ll build the pages slowly, a bit at a time, and we’ll announce new additions on our Facebook page so if you want to get updates please find the page (p4c.com) and ‘like’ it. Otherwise, check in to this website from time to time.

Steve Williams, Editor, P4C.COM

Some of these resources will appear under other headings such as ‘Facts, Truths and Lies’, if they fit.

Children’s Podcast on ‘Respect’

With many families stuck at home or facing a lot of stress, this podcast on respect made by a group of 11-year-olds will provide some important issues to think about. There are some suggestions on how to use the podcast.

View resource

‘It’s just a matter of opinion’

This resource will help you to explore and contrast concepts such as Opinion, Belief, Truth, Knowledge, Attitude, Justify, Certainty, Fact and so on. We provide some example statements that could be discussed online or considered by individuals and families at home. Select just a few for starters. You could also add an ‘if’ to express conditions. ‘It would be true if …’ and a ‘because’ to express reasons: ‘It’s just an opinion because …’ Then there are opinions that are based on facts and those that are not. It is worth noting the difference.

You could discuss some example statements about the current situation that you think would be appropriate. The activity structure will work well for these too. For example:

  1. Washing your hands will protect you from catching the virus.
  2. All the isolation and social distancing will be over in a few months.
  3. Schools should be closed at the moment.
  4. The Covid-19 virus has caused many deaths.
  5.  Social media will tell you everything you need to know about Covid-19.
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The ant and the grasshopper

Not only is this a good resource in its own right at any time, it has some benefits in the current situation.

  1. It’s written in the form of a script and if you are communicating online with teachers, friends and family, it might be fun to try performing a script together with different people taking different roles.
  2. It stimulates questions about giving and sharing – particularly at a time of crisis. You could think of questions appropriate to the current situation. Or make a challenge to think up some scenarios that reflect the themes of the story.

Suggest concepts such as: charity, ‘deserving’, compassion, ‘equal’, fairness. How might these concepts apply to the story and to real life at the present time?

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Thinking Circles

This is a resource for helping people of all ages create questions, statements and concepts in response to a shared book, film or other experience. It could be used by individuals prior to having an online discussion. It could also be used as a hook for individual reflection. It gives a structure so people can take some time selecting what is interesting and important for them.

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Believers and doubters

Brief version
This is a great activity to use with groups either online or face-to-face. Online can mean messages in writing or via video.

Start with a statement that has either of the words ‘is/are’ or ‘should/shouldn’t’ in it. For example:

  • The cause of the present crisis is the poor treatment of animals.
  • Social media should remove all untrue messages about the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The bravest group of people at the moment are NHS workers.
  • Young people shouldn’t be told to stay at home because they are unlikely to get ill with the virus.
  • Schools should stay shut because it’s better to learn from home.

Not all statements should be ones everyone is likely to agree with and even those should leave some room for exceptions and arguments that the statement doesn’t apply in all cases. I’ve given examples that could apply to the pandemic but a statement on any topic can be used.

What to do next
1. Everyone works to support the statement by trying to come up with the best justifications for the view they can. They are ‘believers’.

2. Then everyone turns into ‘doubters’ by trying to list the best reasons to doubt the statement, including imagining better alternative views. It’s very useful for someone to keep a record of all the responses so they can be shared.

3. After the tasks are completed and the results shared, people can then study the points raised, and seek clarification and understanding by asking questions. Then they come to their own view and give reasons. The reasons might involve an explanation of which justifications, doubts and criticisms were most important to them.

That information can be shared too by individuals. This is a great preparation for any kind of argumentative writing.

For a longer version with an explanation of some benefits, click on the button.

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Tuck Everlasting: A great read for enjoyment and philosophising

This novel by Natalie Babbit is a wonderful book, wonderfully written. The language is beautiful so it’s great literature to study.

The book will stimulate many questions that are likely to lead to interesting and valuable philosophical dialogue. It’s also great to read aloud with friends and family.

This is a summary of the plot:

Is eternal life a blessing or a curse? That is what young Winnie Foster must decide when she discovers a spring on her family’s property whose waters grant immortality. Members of the Tuck family, having drunk from the spring, tell Winnie of their experiences watching life go by and never growing older. But then Winnie must decide whether or not to keep the family’s secret—and whether or not to join them on their never-ending journey.

It’s available in several formats.

AND there is a FREE AUDIOBOOK of the story available from an excellent website called Mr. Allen’s Classroom. It is read by Mr Allen himself.

P4C book guide: A P4C teacher called Gayle Hubble wrote a CHAPTER-BY-CHAPTER RESOURCE for this book with sample questions and talking points. It was published in a Journal: ANALYTIC TEACHING Vol. 18, No 1. When I read the notes and questions, many of them seem so appropriate at the moment.

It was freely available as a download but I can’t find the page again. I downloaded it at the time and make it available here. If anyone finds a link for it, please let me know (support@p4c.com). If Gayle or the editors of Analytic Teaching object and want me to take it down, please let me know.


What else is there to say in favour of the book?

After I read the first three sentences I know I am in good hands:

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.”

Then there are plenty of sentences to ponder right through the book, touching on themes such as freedom, conscience, loyalty, ownership and life itself:

“Life’s got to be lived, no matter how long or short. You got to take what comes.”

“Everything’s a wheel, turning and turning, never stopping. The frogs is part of it, and the bugs, and the fish, and the wood thrush, too. And people. But never the same ones. Always coming in new, always growing and changing, and always moving on. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s the way it is.”

“The ownership of land is an odd thing when you come to think of it. How deep, after all, can it go? If a person owns a piece of land, does he own it all the way down, in ever narrowing dimensions, till it meets all other pieces at the center of the earth?”

The “How True was My Answer?” Game

Steve Williams

I adapted this game from the manual to accompany “Elfie” by Mathew Lipman and associates at the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC).

The game introduces some of the vocabulary people use to qualify their statements about truth. Certainty is something people might always like but can’t always have. And even if you feel certain of something, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

The activity can be done face-to-face in a school or family setting and also online.

Each person is asked a different question. After they have given an answer, they will say whether they think it is:

  1. Completely true
  2. Mostly true
  3. A little bit true
  4. Not at all true.

Discuss or suggest a method that is easiest for people to show how they want to rate their answer. It might be through a hand movement, writing on a card they hold up, or saying a word or two like “completely” or “a little bit”

After each answer and rating, invite others to show if they disagree and to what extent: “a little bit”, “a lot” or “completely”. If there is any disagreement, say “OK, let’s explain,” and go into brief discussion.

The questions below are suggestions. You could use them all or make a selection. The first six are taken from the IAPC manual. The second set are from me.

  1. How many letters are in your first name?
  2. Can a person be at home and at school at the same time?
  3. Do rabbits have short ears?
  4. Can a plant be a person?
  5. Are you ever wrong?
  1. Can you catch a virus if you never leave your house?
  2. Can some people predict the future?
  3. Do people learn from their mistakes?
  4. Is the society you live in fair?
  5. Can everyone sing in tune?

After completing the activity, ask the participants what general thoughts they have about the idea of truth and what other interesting connections they can make to life as they know it.

Mr Gumpy’s Outing

A resource by James Nottingham on the picture book by John Bulingham

If you don’t have a copy of the book, you can follow a reading YouTube. Here is an example:

Story Summary

One fine morning Mr. Gumpy decides it’s a perfect day for an outing in his little boat. Apparently, plenty of others think so, too. First some children ask to join him, then a rabbit, a cat, a dog, a pig, a sheep … Soon, Mr. Gumpy’s boat is precariously full and the animals break all the rules he has set. There’s nowhere for anyone else to go but overboard but this mild mariner takes everything in his stride.

Concepts include:
Rules, fighting, consequences, risk, safety, responsibility, blame

View resource

Untruths and The Flattery Game

Some people create untruths or pass on unproven rumours. Social media gives them tools to do it. Why do people create untruths? They might want to:

* Attain satisfaction and popularity from their message being passed around.
* Mislead people in order to undermine a society by creating conflict or anxiety.
* Gain followers and therefore influence.
* Create power over someone by get getting them to believe or do something you want.

Flattery
One way of getting people to believe an untruth is to flatter them in some way. For instance:

  1. “You are one of us. You are part of our team. Don’t believe or side with others. Don’t go against your team. This is what people in our team think.
  2. “I’m going to tell you something that I heard from someone with special inside information. That will make you special and if you pass it on people will thank you for it and you will help them to feel special too.
  3. “Powerful people are trying to trick you but I know you are not an average, ordinary person. You are more intelligent that most people so I think you will appreciate what I’m about to tell you.”
  4. “You won’t know this but I’m going to let you in on a secret.”

The Flattery Game

  1. Imagine some kinds of false information people might make up and try to get passed around.
  2. You might already be aware of some examples. What kinds of flattery might be used to get people to believe or share the untruths?
  3. Then imagine what would make you doubt the truth of the stories. What ways could you check on their accuracy?

Create a checklist for recognising untruths. This could be a group activity.

Bigger Questions

1. What are the connections between

  • Facts and truths
  • Untruths and lies?

2. Can flattery be a good thing? If so, what are some example of ‘good flattery’ and ‘bad flattery’.

A Definition of Flattery
One dictionary definition of flattery: ‘excessive and insincere praise, given especially to further one’s own interests’

Origin: Middle English: from Old French flaterie, from flater ‘stroke, flatter’.