So as you can see, the 10 Step Model is a great guide (especially if you read about it fully - remember I just gave a brief overview here as it is not the model we are going to follow). It is a great guide but, for me, it was the cause of a lot of frustration and initial resistance to doing Philosophy for Children. As beginners it was recommended in the Level 1 course that we use the model. The 10 Step Model is great. I am not here to criticise something which clearly works and which gives you a good understanding of what to do, when and why. But what the 10 Step Model did for me, dealing with tiny tots, was confuse me, make me think that P4C was unworkable with small children and, quite frankly, made me feel like I was continually setting both myself and the children up for failure. It was a wasted half hour each week, and even that was after squishing the 10 Step Model so small as to be pointless anyway. If a child doesn’t even understand the difference between opinions, information and questions how can they create their own questions? If it is age appropriate that they are almost entirely egocentric then how can we expect them to care about any other child’s opinion enough to work as a group to come up with a question? While we are at it, how many 4 year olds are capable of instinctively working as a group on a communication and language based task without a heck of a lot of modelling and scaffolding from an adult?
So what happened to change me from a P4C sceptic into someone who liked it enough to attempt to write a book on the subject (how am I doing by the way?)? Basically, what happened was that I had a tantrum. I spat my dummy out, stamped my feet and screamed and screamed till I was sick, or rather I ranted to people about it being ridiculous, knew I had to do it anyway (as we had signed up to several years of P4C as a school) and decided to rebel, spit in the eye of the 10 Step Model and do a half-hearted job of it. In that first session that I decided to do a half-hearted job guess what happened. My Early Years training and experience took the driving seat and lo and behold we had a successful enquiry, despite me feeling a bit guilty that I hadn’t done anything that I was meant to do or anything on my 10 Step Model plan. So I did it again, and again, and before you knew it both myself, the other practitioners in class and the children were actually enjoying doing Philosophy for Children. We had even managed to create our own little routine. Introduce our Philosophy Frog teddy, introduce the stimulus, have a brief reminder of the guidelines for our chat, have a vote, have a chat, job done. Out of this slapdash, partly child-led approach (and isn’t that what Early Years is all about?) we ended up with our own model.
When I went on the Level 2 SAPERE course and read a short section relating to Early Years in the course handbook which practically gave permission to shorten the 10 Step Model I almost cheered and it was that point that I finally decided to trust my own knowledge and experience of an age group I knew very well (thank you very much) to create my own model to use in class. The QUEST!
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.
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.