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  • Kate Halliwell

Philosophical Thinking — Something that everyone can benefit from

Kate Halliwell is a P4C Trainer and Facilitator who loves to facilitate philosophical enquiries for people of all ages and backgrounds in Sheffield and beyond. She reflects on the path the various themes of these enquiries have taken during the pandemic.

Y6-8 P4C After-School Club

I’ve been fortunate enough to have run a weekly after-school club at DECSY (Development Education Centre South Yorkshire) since September 2019. Members of DECSY’s P4C Practitioners’ Group had previously reported that a number of Y6 pupils were unhappy because they weren’t able to continue their P4C sessions within their secondary education and wanted to know where else they could do it. So the Y6-7 P4C ASC was born! It has since evolved into the Y6-8 P4C ASC due to the Y7 members not wanting it to end.

During the pandemic, concepts (often selected by the members themselves) have ranged from early opinions about Covid-19, nature, hygiene and destruction/protection to judging others, friendships and notions of right and wrong. As time passed and we came out of Lockdown 1, the impact of Covid-19 on our sessions was less obvious and other issues came to dominate our thoughts; in particular, the Black Lives Matter campaign and protests.

The Library of Life Community Philosophy Sessions

The Library of Life is a pop-up library in Sheffield which specialises in the literary works of Black British, African, Caribbean and other authors from the African Diaspora. I have been running monthly sessions in collaboration with the library either in person or online since November 2019. We began with topics inspired by some of the library’s collection but, with both the pandemic and the BLM protests at the forefront of everyone’s minds, the questions took on a more UK orientated, social and political focus. Questions such as: How do people monitor human rights in a country that’s neglecting them? How long do we wait for systemic progress? and How far does Britain operate as an individualistic or a collectivist society? were hot topics for exploration. Since moving to Zoom and openly inviting people to join us via Eventbrite, the sessions have been invigorated by new people with new perspectives, experiences and ideas to add to the mix. No two enquiries are similar and, as with the P4C ASC, participants’ suggestions for questions, themes or concepts are welcomed.

Both projects have been funded by The Wesleyan Foundation in a grant secured by DECSY.

I can’t speak on behalf of others but for me, personally, these sessions over the last nine months have been invaluable: they have provided a much-needed sense of community and collaboration during so much isolation; they have stimulated my thinking and not allowed my brain to dull; and, perhaps most importantly, they have opened my mind to alternative ways of thinking and opportunities for progress.

If this sounds like something that you’d be interested in coming along to or you are keen to set up an online community philosophy group of your own, please get in touch with Kate via the Members area.

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