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The Fairest Queen of All: P4C & Talk for Writing

This week, a stimulus story, “The Fairest Queen of All” (download here), which uses a fairytale style to explore the ethics of hereditary, communist, free-market and futuristic societies. The queen tries to respond to the complaints she hears about the unfairness of her realm, but someone is always dissatisfied.
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Pause Points
The story is longer than usual and splits naturally into three main sections. As with any longer stimulus, these make good pause points at which you can you do some preliminary thinking: reactions to what has happened so far, predictions about what will happen next, gathering philosophical and other questions.
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Rules
In this story, each of the first three societies has three laws. The children could consider whether these laws are good or bad, and what their consequences would be. They could also imagine what the three laws would be for the final society, in which robots do most of the work.
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P4C Stimuli and Talk for Writing
9 years ago, the first P4C stimulus I wrote (and still, frustratingly, the best) was “The Fairest Teacher of Them All”. Teacher Clare Middleton used this as the starting point for a “Talk for Writing” cycle. She shared a story written by one of her pupils, Max, in response, and my new story is a response to his. You’ll see I’ve “magpied” his astronaut! I’ve included her comment, his story and the original text in our new Zebra-Striped format, in the attachment.
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Many of the story stimuli we send out would work well for TfW, in which children become familiar with an existing text and then imitate and innovate around it. The stories are generally short which makes them manageable, their structure and style are often very overt, and they can be transferred to other contexts while retaining the same underlying concepts and conflicts. Not only can it be a good literacy exercise but it can deepen the philosophical engagement too.
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Thank you to Max for the inspiration and to Clare for sharing his story with me and for hitting on this way of using the stories.
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Best wishes,
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Jason

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