Philosophy for Children

"Give children a thought and they'll learn for a day.

Teach them to think and they'll learn for a lifetime."

This year we are starting to teach Philosophy for Children (P4C) at St Margaret’s Academy. P4C develops, enhances and enriches thinking and questioning skills. In P4C lessons we explore moral and ethical questions about life and the world in which we live. The children learn to understand different values and viewpoints and how to challenge whilst respect them. The lessons give children a chance to pursue questions whilst developing a meaningful, challenging and worthwhile dialogue with peers.
Pupil Voice at St Margaret’s Academy:

Year 1 (Juliet) In P4C we think about others and ask questions or come up with ideas.

Year 2 (Apple)They help us learn more - We like it when we learn, because we think about other people and things, and it helps us get ideas talking to others. It helps our brain learn more things!

Year 3 (Brook) I am lots more confident now we have started P4C! I love doing P4C! P4C helps you to be more confident at speaking and listening. We all have a go at speaking. Some people are really quiet and some are loud. I help other people to speak because I give really good explanations. It’s really fun!

Year 4 (Holly) Why I enjoy P4C is because it gives you an idea what philosophical questions mean. I also like sitting in a circle and participating together. Also I like talking to our partners so we feel better.

Year 5 (Daisy) P4C is a really good way to dig into your mind and make your brain think. In each lesson we think of an interesting philosophical question and discuss it with the class. I most enjoyed the session where we had the question of, Why do people lie? This was a brilliant session because lots of people could think about why they lie.

Year 6 (Callum) I like P4C lessons because you can share your ideas and you can never be wrong and you can add and challenge other people’s ideas and people cannot laugh at you.

Skills learned in P4C and used across the curriculum

  • Learning to learn 
  • Enhance speaking and listening skills
  • Questioning skills       
  • Citizenship
  • Observational and memory skills                                                
  • Reflection
  • Collaboration  
  • Positive body language
  • Thinking time
  • Turn taking and patience
  • Social and Emotional development                                            
  • Conversational skills
  • Develop respect for differing opinions                                       
  • Reasoning      
  • Making connections with ideas and concepts

P4C and our School Values

P4C taps into a child's natural curiosity and sense of wonder.

Creativity: It encourages collaboration - thinking, discussing, co-operatively working with others. It builds conversational and communication skills.

Respect: It develops respect - excellent social skills tool, fosters a climate for healthy debate, helps to children to think of and about others' thoughts.

Independence: It builds confidence - self awareness, self esteem, motivation, emotional strength. (Develops attributes that lead to reasoned judgements in everyday life.)

A Typical P4C Lesson

Warm Up The lessons start with a warm up activity, for example, an open ended question where there is no right or wrong answer. This might be something like Would a crocodile or an octopus most like to go bike riding? Why? Or perhaps, Would you rather be a super hero or rule the world?

Stimulus Then the children are shown a stimulus which might be a short video clip/a picture (see ‘Stimulus’ section below) and they need to work as a class to create a philosophical question that relates to the stimulus.

We discuss this philosophical question by agreeing/challenging each other politely through explanation.

Discussion The learning during the whole P4C lesson is invaluable to the children, particularly in giving them confidence to value and share their own thoughts even if they oppose/challenge something previously said.

Conclusion Finally we summarise the discussion and have time to reflect on what our peers have said. Children are given the opportunity to share how their thoughts have changed through the discussion.

Possible Stimuli;

  • News articles                                             
  • School values
  • Pictures                                                       
  • Curriculum
  • Books                                                         
  • Artefacts/objects
  • Photos                                                         
  • Art                                                               
  • Poem
  • Music/songs                                                
  • Sayings
  • Film clips                                                    
  • Quote/proverb
  • Real life incidents