Can you change the present to make the future better?
This was the question generated, chosen, asked and discussed by years five and six pupils from Armathwaite Community School in the Eden Valley when they visited Lancaster University Politics, Philosophy and Religion Department.
The session was organised as part of the children’s Philosophy For Children (P4C) activities - a way of enabling children to think about philosophical questions and engage in discussions.
John Foster, Faye Tucker and Miffy Williams from the University created a story around a girl called Freida, who had been to Armathwaite School and then to Lancaster University, who questioned if she had ever been free as a child…even though her parents and teachers had never made her do anything she didn’t want to.
Chair of Governors at Armathwaite Community School Ben Wohl said it had been a great opportunity for the children to tackle deep philosophical questions alongside students and lecturers from Lancaster University. It had given the primary school children an opportunity to stretch their thinking skills and also get a taste of university life.
“The pupils had a chance to imagine what it would be like to attend university in the future,” said Ben. “One pupil took notes throughout the visit of everything he had seen and, by the end of the day, was already making plans to study history at Lancaster.
“As a governor, I feel that this was fantastic chance show the children the value of life-long learning. I strongly believe that part of the role of education should be to inspire children to think about how learning and thinking can open up a wide range of new opportunities.”
P4C Leader at Armathwaite Community Primary School Jane Yates said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to come and further our philosophical thinking around this concept of freedom, as equals, alongside staff and PhD philosophy students from Lancaster University.
“The planning of the session by University staff was impressive. As a SAPERE P4C Gold Award School, we are always looking for opportunities to provide challenge for our pupils and this has been a truly inspirational experience for them, both philosophically and educationally.”
Jane later gave a joint presentation at The Storey in Lancaster - sharing her work in school and the visit to Lancaster University - alongside other speakers from the philosophy department and acclaimed P4C speaker Dr Charlotte Blease, from Dublin.
“This has been such a worthwhile project for us to be involved in,” she added.