philosophy (and argumentation) for children: some reflection for primary school

lucia scipione


Through the exercise of inquiry and thinking together, a number of studies promote philosophy at school within the dialogical context. The Philosophy for Children curriculum and other Philosophy with Children experiences all around the world spearheaded on promoting dialogical contexts in school with the aim of foster a high-order thinking. The P4C became the standard reference for revision of curricula and teaching practices, on the one hand, through enhancing thinking and reasoning skills, and, on the other, by promote a democratic space and the exercise of citizenship. With a complex - thinking model and with a community of inquiry framework, Lipman (2003) upholds the idea that thinking does not consist of just reasoning or logic itself, but it is performed by different dimensions of thought, intra- and inter-personal. The thinking space that a philosophical discussion could in fact open supports the exercise of reasoning in communities of inquiry that promote cognitive, social and civic competence. Acknowledging the crucial role of the rational and social dimensions of thinking, scholarly research that investigates “argumentation” in children and in school settings is growing. Consistently with studies in Argumentation and Education, in this paper we will refer to “argumentation” as a fundamental way of reasoning and a social practice which finds the ideal context in which it can develop in the discussion (Mirza, Perret-Clermont, 2009). Philosophical and psycho-pedagogical studies recognize argumentation as an essential actor in the construction of thought and in the structuring of new knowledge, in content understanding and in the creation of contextual connections, in the dynamic of relationship, in the engagement of various metacognitive processes (Rapanta et al., 2013). Rational and social aspects of argumentative competence could be fostered in a philosophical context at primary school age. In consideration of the need to promote social and civic competences and based on the definition of discussion as the ideal context to promote argumentation and to practice democracy, it becomes important to raise teacher’s awareness of the key importance of argumentation. Recognizing some relevant perspectives in Argumentation and Education, this paper attempts to highlight several theoretical and methodological questions that are relevant to Philosophy for/with Children and to teacher and facilitator training. 


philosophy for/with children; argumentation; discussion; Primary School.

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