Lan Liu


This thesis addresses the different educational values, notably between English and Taiwanese cultures and schooling, that shape teachers' facilitation of enquiry in Philosophy for Children (P4C). Interest in ways in which pupils demonstrate their critical thinking prompted my comparative study. The research explores the values that underpin teachers' implementation of P4C. Drawing on Birkeland (2016) and Bartlett & Vavrus (2017a), the comparative case study manifests the differences and similarities of teachers’ values and philosophical facilitation in an English and a Taiwanese primary school. Exploring values that underpin teachers' implementation of P4C provides insight into the impact of P4C in different cultural contexts. This study also unpacks the pupils' critical thinking in diverse dimensions. The historical understanding of critical thinking is inclined towards emphasising logic and reasoning, whereas my standpoint is to broaden the lens of critical thinking to include other dimensions. The fieldwork took place in two seven-week periods between 2019 and 2020. It drew on classroom observations, focus groups with children and interviews with teachers in one English and one Taiwanese primary school. Data collection included participation in a two-hour class observation of P4C each week, making fieldnotes, taking photographs and noting teachers' instructions. Observational evidence extended the dimensions for understanding teachers’ choices of materials for enquiry, which methods they applied, and teaching-learning interactions with pupils. The reflective interviews with class teachers took place 30 minutes after each session. Analysis of interviews demonstrated how teachers' values related to the selection of teaching materials and their use in P4C. Analysis of focus group discussions illustrated different dimensions of critical thinking. The contribution of this thesis to knowledge is, first, to demonstrate how teachers’ values shape their P4C practices, underpinned by different cultural perspectives. Linked to this, the second contribution is to broaden the understanding of children’s emergent critical thinking.

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Available for download on Friday, August 16, 2024