When I first started this project, my school had just introduced a new set of values… The 6 Rs; Respectful Relationships, Risk Taking, Resilience, Resourcefulness, Reflectiveness and aRticulacy (a little bit of artistic creativity was needed to squeeze that one in...) The two values that presented us with the most work to do with our children were reflection and articulacy, which is why Andy Leeman (colleague and CTSN/IOE 'How Do we know it works?' research programme partner) and I decided to tackle these through our research projects.
Fast forward nearly two years and I’m noticing a huge improvement in children’s verbal articulacy. My focus children are sharing thoughts and ideas to the class a lot more fluently and with much less ‘urms’ and ‘ahhs’ - job done, all evidence reports progress being made – Big tick – next project please… Unfortunately though, I feel that there are too many variables for me to be jumping about claiming success. In Maths this year we have had a much stronger push on reasoning questions; this will have a positive effect on articulacy. We’re getting children to reflect much more often after lessons; this will also have a positive effect on their articulacy. In guided reading sessions, I’ve put a much higher emphasis on vocabulary; this too will have a positive effect on articulacy. Again this is too many variables.
So I’m winning, but losing. I’m getting exactly the results that I was hoping for but I have no solid evidence to point the finger at my weekly P4C sessions. Quantitative data is proving tricky to find therefore I’m struggling to back up my claims. Is this enough to dismiss my project? I feel that it has helped build children’s confidence – in fact 5 out of the 6 focus children said that they felt more comfortable sharing ideas with their peers since they started P4C sessions – and this again will have a positive influence on my children’s ability to articulate themselves.
Research informed practice is imperative to improve us as classroom teachers, but can everything be proved? Does that mean that it’s invalid? I shall continue with Philosophy sessions for my class as I can see the improvements in confidence and willingness to share in my children. Do I think you should try philosophy too? Of course! But currently I don’t have the research to back me up – sorry, you’ll just have to trust me on this one…
RA Butler Academy