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What is a community of inquiry?

A community of inquiry is the group in which a P4C session takes place.  It is a group in which the individuals feel valued by each other and where they feel safe to express their views and share their experiences.  In most schools the whole class will form the community of inquiry, but it can also work with smaller groups.

It takes time and skill for the facilitator to build an effective community of inquiry.   Some students will take longer than others to start participating actively.  In general this is not a problem, and many teachers find that students who take longer to join in often come up with deep insights when they do start talking.   As long as students are listening well, they will be thinking and benefiting from hearing what others have to say

A vital first step in creating a community of inquiry is to establish a set of ground rules or guidelines with the group.  It is important that the students agree to these, or even suggest rules themselves, rather than the teacher imposing a set of rules.  This is a critical part of P4C being a democratic student-led process.  

Basic ground rules could be:

    Only one person speaks at a time;

    Everyone looks at the person who is speaking; 

    It is fine to disagree with others but a reason must always be given. 

The group should also agree what to do if the ground rules are not being respected.

Your P4C training will give you a range of tools and techniques for establishing a successful community of inquiry.   Contact us for more information.

For more information, please contact info@p4c.org.cn

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