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Philosophy for Children

In short

Philosophy for Children (P4C) is a powerful educational approach which has been found through research studies to have cognitive and social benefits for children and schools.

It is more effective, and less expensive, than any comparable approach. Attainment and happiness are increased.

It is centred on philosophical enquiry, where a trained teacher encourages children to think and reason as a group.

It supports Personal, Social and Health Education and complements many government initiatives and education strategies. P4C is short for Philosophy for Children.

In detail

P4C is an approach to learning and teaching, now a recognised worldwide movement and practice, that was founded by Professor Matthew Lipman. P4C has developed over 35 years, and is practised in approximately 60 countries.

Children are taught how to create their own philosophical questions. They then choose one question that is the focus of a philosophical enquiry, or dialogue. For example the question might be ‘is it ever ok to steal?

The teacher, as facilitator, supports the children in their thinking, reasoning and questioning, as well as the way the children speak and listen to each other in the dialogue. After the enquiry the children and facilitator reflect on the quality of the thinking, reasoning and participation, and suggest how they could improve; either as individuals or as a group (community).

P4C is intended to be a regular activity so that the children develop their skills and understanding over time. The role of the facilitator is crucial to ensuring quality dialogue and progress, as well as integration with the curriculum.

It is well documented that P4C has an impact on children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. P4C is about getting children to think and communicate well; to think better for themselves.

P4C is a thorough pedagogy with considerable academic pedigree. Professor Matthew Lipman, frustrated by his students lack of engagement with learning and thinking, was influenced by educationalists and philosophers such as Vygotsky, Piaget, Dewey as well as the tradition of Socratic dialogue.