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spirit of enquiry
community of enquiry
Proceedings of the Redesigning pedagogy: research, policy, practice conference, Singapore, May - June 2005.
According to Mr. Thaman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Education, in his address at the “ Innovation and Enterprise in our Schools” Workshop on 16 Feb 2004, the core of I&E is about developing intellectual curiosity, a willingness to think originally, a spirit of initiative, a willingness to do something differently and developing strength of character. Hence one of the key elements that underpin innovation and enterprise is getting our young to question as they learn, thus nurturing the spirit of enquiry. But how could teachers develop this spirit of enquiry in young primary children? Over a period from 1969 to 1986, Matthew Lipman developed a programme for primary and secondary students to foster the development of questioning and reasoning skills. Through the use of specially developed thinking stories as triggers, teachers engage students to discuss philosophical issues, such as friendship and beauty embedded in the stories. The students discover the importance of supporting the views they express by means of convincing reasons. They learn to appreciate the difference in perspectives within the same group through discussion. As they share the tasks of discerning problems and discovering meanings, they begin to build a community of inquiry. Lipman called his inquiry programme “Philosophy for Children” or P4C. He strongly recommends the P4C to be offered to all primary students. To promote the spirit of enquiry in young primary children, an intervention study is undertaken in a
neighbourhood school. P4C lessons are implemented in two Primary Three classes. The duration of treatment is three semesters. The project classes are tested on their reasoning skills before and after the implementation of P4C. Video tapes on the philosophical lessons show encouraging progress in the development of enquiry and reasoning skills in the young children.
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