Philosophy for Children

What is Philosophy for Children?

Philosophy for Children, or P4C, aims to develop children’s thinking, social and emotional development. It was founded by Professor Matthew Lipman over 30 years ago.  It introduces children to the ideas of the great philosophers, and allows them to develop their own philosophical questions and discussions.  Philosophy for Children involves group discussions about ethical or philosophical topics, such as fairness and truth. The discussions are designed to encourage children to ask questions, construct arguments and engage in reasoned debate 

The adult leading the session also focuses on developing P4C 4Cs thinking:

Caring – understanding others and being respectful of different opinions.

Collaborative – finding solutions together.

Creative – making connections and thinking of new ideas.

Critical – understanding what we think and why.

How is Philosophy for Children taught?

Each class from Nursery to Year 6 has a weekly Philosophy for Children session. In response to a stimulus, the children come up with their own philosophical question to discuss. For example, the question could be, ‘Is it ever okay to lie?’ The teacher then facilitates a discussion around this question, explicitly teaching, modelling and practising the following skills:

  • Being a good listener
  • Communicating clearly
  • Making eye-contact
  • Justifying opinions
  • Defining meanings
  • Questioning assumptions
  • Disagreeing without being disagreeable
  • Thinking hypothetically
  • Finding examples and counter-examples
  • Comparing and grouping ideas

At the end of the session, we reflect on the skills we had been developing throughout the discussion.

Developing Philosophy for Children 

Philosophy for Children has a proven impact on children’s oral literacy skills. It is also an opportunity for the children to discuss their learning in other contexts – for example, a Philosophy discussion may centre on a historical artefact or a character in a story’s motivations.