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P4C Polo Poser: Deeper Thinking for the Summer Term

Is the hole in the polo part of the polo?
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…is one of our favourite questions. Humorous and whimsical, it also provokes deeper thinking about identities, properties, and necessities.
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For children, a question like this is a wonderful antidote to a year of phonics and feedback. It’s particularly good in the midst of Summer Term – it creates a playful atmosphere whilst inviting higher order thinking, which can so often evaporate as temperatures rise.
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Great! But where next?
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Tom used this conundrum to kick off workshops at Bedford Modern School on Monday. As always, lots of interesting reasons followed: from analogies to rubber-rings to the importance of branding.
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Inevitably, all groups found themselves discussing whether the polo needs a hole to be a polo. This could easily sustain a longer discussion, but it’s not the most pressing of questions – the stakes aren’t high either way. So why not consider following it with a question of similar style, but on another concept. The structure is simple: “Does x need y (to be x)?
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On Monday, Tom challenged students to make their own. Here are a few of their examples:
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  • Does talent need practise?
  • Does love need two people?
  • Does knowledge need wisdom?
  • Does a successful team need a leader?
  • Does a successful society need religion?

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Letting them create and vote for questions will mean more investment in the one chosen, and so higher engagement. For younger children, you could prepare your own in advance before letting them choose which is most interesting to discuss.
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Asking this kind of question invites children to explore what philosophers call “necessary conditions” – either something that must happen for something to occur, or a “must-have” ingredient of that something.

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