A quest is a long and arduous search for something, it is a late Middle English word from the Old French queste (noun)/ quester (verb), based on Latin quaerere which meant ‘ask, seek’. Most commonly used as a word for an epic adventure or in a ‘quest for knowledge.’ What better word to describe a philosophical journey? So, I created the QUESTS model to take my class on an epic philosophical journey each week and, even better, do it within the 15 minutes window of time that a 3-5 year old is often able to maintain attention and excitement for an adult led activity. So here is the overview of a QUESTS.
This is the starting post of your quest. What do you want to know today? First remind the children of your community guidelines and 4Cs (see Lesson 1 and 2). If you have a prop, like Philosophy Frog, then have the toy pose the question of the day. Make this your big concept question. Don’t worry you can drill down later. See the lesson plans in this book to give you some ideas. See if anyone wants to try an answer to the question straight away.
e.g. Are teddies real?
Give some more depth to the question. Explain why you are asking. For example it might be a question that you are wondering about because of a book you have just read aloud or something that happened in class. An example of this might be “I asked if teddies are real. What I mean is, do they come alive when no-one is watching?”
Get the children to vote on the question. For this question the answer will be ‘yes’ or ‘no’. You may have children who say they don’t know. Try to press them for an opinion but if you are getting nowhere then don’t be afraid to add a ‘I’m not ready to decide yet’ option. Methods of voting could be hands up, holding a picture up or anything you can think of. Personally I find that voting with feet works best i.e. go to this side of the room if you think… and that side of you think… I have tried this with Key Workers but the risk is that children will just go to their own Key Worker or the person they like best instead of making a decision. When voting with feet it is often easy to spot the children who copy their friends or the children who are unsure what they think.
Once children have chosen their side ask a couple of children from each side to explain why they chose that way. After the voting get everyone to sit back down in the group. It may help to keep children roughly in their group so that you can see who changes their mind as the enquiry goes on.
Now that the group is sitting down again remind them of the initial question. Invite everyone to share their ideas. As you see opportunities introduce new facts or questions. Encourage children to agree or disagree with each other and build on each other’s ideas (however be mindful that this isn’t something that you are likely to see until children are confident philosophisers). In this example a new facts and question might be ‘I thought that our teddy did come alive at night but Mr … said I have never actually seen it happen so it can’t be true. Is he right?”
Carry on with the enquiry until you feel it has run its natural course.
Thank everyone for their input and involvement. You may want, at this point, to highlight children who did particularly well or showed progress in their abilities since your last enquiry. Try to link your thanks to your community guidelines or the 4Cs. I have found that a nice way to do this when first starting out is to have two hula hoops in different colours. Select children who have spoken to hold onto one hoop and children who haven’t to hold onto the other. Say “well done to everyone holding the blue hoop. You were critical and creative because you gave answers and thoughts today” “well done to the children holding the red hoop. You were caring and followed our guideline to listen nicely to your friends when they spoke. You all made a decision when you voted too.”
Skills (and Concepts)
The skills you would like to encourage today and the concepts and key words you might come across during the enquiry
Miss Magical Mess is a pre-school teacher and P4C Level 2B facilitator. After a shaky start as a P4C facilitator (P4C with 3 year olds... are you kidding?) Miss Magical Mess created her own approach to P4C and enquiry model and is now a big fan.