How effective is Philosophy for Children in contributing to the affective engagement of pupils in the context of secondary Religious Education?

Asha Lancaster-Thomas


This paper reports the findings of a predominantly qualitative study that explored the effects of the practice of Philosophy for Children (P4C) on pupils’ affective engagement.[1] From its conception, the practice of P4C has been linked to the development of caring and collaborative thinking and the study aimed to closely consider that relationship. An appropriate self-designed P4C program was implemented with 75 Year 9 pupils (aged 14 and 15) of Religious Education (a compulsory subject in the British education system in which pupils explore world religions in a non-confessional manner) at an independent secondary school in the United Kingdom. An interpretive research approach was taken and thematic analysis was appropriated to analyse the data. Findings supported the claims of previous research that P4C can foster affective engagement in many pupils, particularly those pupils who find emotional expression and interpersonal interactions challenging. A tentative conclusion reached supposes that P4C has the potential to contribute to the affective engagement of pupils, but with the recommendation that implementing a P4C program must be executed carefully and with the mindfulness that it may not have the same potential or usefulness for all pupils universally.

[1] This research was conducted at the University College London. The author is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Birmingham.

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