The six strands of PTL – Inquiry, Concept-Construction, Dialogue, Reasoning, Reflection and Virtues-Valuing – are justly described as ‘philosophical’ because of the place that all of them have in the rich tradition of philosophy. Perhaps the most famous quote of Socrates himself – ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’ – points to the importance of the first 5 strands, and his less famous quote – ‘Not life, but good life, is chiefly to be valued’ – points to the importance of the sixth one.
The strands are arguably as important today as they always have been, not least in modern formal education and the more general process of teaching-and-learning. They can even be linked to recent significant educational innovations: (respectively and respectfully) Inquiry-based Learning, Concept-Centred Curricula, Dialogic Teaching, Critical Thinking Pedagogy, Reflective Education, and Values-Based Education.
The way we at DialogueWorks think about and model each of them, however, reflects our unique experience and expertise.
Here is a flavour of how we present them:
One extra, and special, aspect of the PTL framework is that the six strands are conceived (and practised) as interweaving – that is, mutually reinforcing. (In straight terms, good inquiry is based on sound concepts, whose construction relies on good reasoning, which itself benefits from dialogue and reflection).
This makes PTL more holistic and therefore more powerful than any of the single innovations mentioned above, whilst still challenging teachers – and learners – to focus on each strand in turn and in balance, continually developing the associated virtues of curiosity, constructiveness, communicativeness, reasonableness, and reflectiveness.