"The Mind is like a parachute; it works best when it is open." Frank Zappa

Philosophy for Children, or P4C as it is more commonly known, is a thinking skills programme which was developed by Matthew Lipman with his associates at the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children(IAPC), Montclair State University.

It has an ultimate aim of making students more reasonable. Lipman advocated that the goal of education should be to develop ‘practical wisdom’ or ‘good judgement’.

Philosophy for Children is about creating a space where a group or community of children can generate their own philosophy based on their responses to a given stimulus. As the community becomes used to thinking together in this way, mutual respect and confidence are built up over time.

Research in P4C provides evidence that it not only increases thinking and listening skills, but also skills of communication, self-esteem, confidence, behaviour and engagement with learning across subject areas.

Traditionally, P4C has been classroom based in most of the 80 countries it is now practised, but it is increasingly used to make sense of and deepen experiences in the outdoors, communities and other sectors of education.

A typical session includes a stimulus such as a story, photo, artefact or experience. Participants generate philosophical questions and one is selected as the main focus of enquiry by the community.  The enquiry is guided by a facilitator, whose role is crucial in encouraging thinking and dialogue that is collaborative, caring, critical and creative.

Further information about Philosophy for Children 

Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education(SAPERE)

The International Council of Philosophical Inquiry with Children(ICPIC)

My own P4C articles and resources

The impact of philosophical enquiry with children on development education DEA Journal

Opening Young Minds to Diversity Global Dimension

Using P4C to improve Writing Case study by SAPERE

Giving pupils a Voice through Global Learning Case study by the Global Learning Programme

Philosophy for Children and Outdoor Learning  Horizon

Integrating Global Learning into subjects  Global Learning Programme (my film about maths)

Other publications:

Teaching Pack for Ally Comes to Cumbria. Teaching pack to support anti-racist forum theatre experience

Exploring Time and Place Ed. Hilary Cooper Chapter by me about 'Time and Place Capsules'


Handout Preparing pupils for Life in Modern Britain.

A handout produced for Cumbria SACRE conference in 2015 alongside a demonstration done by pupils from Armathwaite School.

Enquiry Based Learning

Enquiry Based Learning by Open Futures. Section written about Armathwaite School "Communities of Learning" which explains approach to P4C with Reception children using Philosophy Frog.

SAPERE newsletter 2015

Includes my article on "Embedding P4C and Global Learning in the new Primary Maths Curriculum: using infographics as a stimulus"

Critical Thinking Skills Project 2011 - Independent Evaluation

Thinking Skills and Community Cohesion Project
Philosophy for Children(P4C)
Evaluation by Jane Yates
Commissioned by Liverpool One World Centre