Please forward this error screen to 209. This article needs additional citations for verification. Philosophy for Children, the method of learning poems with children of preschool age abbreviated to P4C, is a movement that aims to teach reasoning and argumentative skills to children. There are also related methods sometimes called “Philosophy for Young People” or “Philosophy for Kids”.
The pedagogy of philosophy for children is diverse. In a typical inquiry, a group would be presented with a thought-provoking stimulus such as a text, image, picture book, or video clip. Some time may be spent identifying the concepts raised by the stimulus, and then participants frame their own philosophical questions in response to the stimulus and vote for the one they wish to explore. One of the salient differences between proponents of philosophy for children is in their choice of stimuli – starting points for discussions. Matthew Lipman, called “the most influential figure” in helping young students develop philosophical thinking by Gareth Matthews, is credited with starting the Philosophy for Children movement in the 1970s. One of his best-known techniques was to provide the beginning of a philosophically provocative story.
Karin Murris of Witwatersrand University, South Africa and Joanna Haynes of Plymouth University, England, have popularised the use of children’s picture books as an alternative to purpose-written materials. Tom Wartenberg of Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts has also written a large number of discussion plans for philosophising with picture books. Jana Mohr Lone has written about children’s philosophical thinking and the benefits of encouraging children to engage in philosophical inquiry. There is particular diversity in the UK, owing to the large number of competing and collaborating freelance trainers each emphasising different strands of the pedagogy.
SAPERE is the UK’s leading provider of P4C training. Registered in 1994, the charity has trained over 27,000 teachers and other individuals in the use of P4C. SAPERE’s mission is to advance the educational, personal and social development of young people, especially those facing disadvantage, through the promotion of P4C. UK based Thinking Space is Grace Robinson, a philosopher and a network of associated philosophers and educators whose work is characterised by playful and experimental collaborations.
This work with a range of practitioners, among them artists, scientists, and academics, aims to bring philosophical issues alive for children and young people. A particular way of doing philosophy with children is illustrated by the work of Chris Phillips with the Philosophers Club at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in the Mission District, San Francisco, California. At the University of Washington, the Center for Philosophy for Children educates University of Washington graduate and undergraduate students about how to facilitate philosophy sessions, and then sends them into Seattle classrooms with supervision and mentoring from experienced instructors. This program has introduced philosophy to thousands of public school students, and runs many year-long weekly philosophy sessions in Seattle public school classrooms. At the University of Chicago, students in the college teach in schools on Chicago South Side through the University’s Civic Knowledge Project. Before the Department of Education cut funding for such programs in the early 1990s, there were over 5,000 programs in K-12 schools nationwide which engaged young people in philosophical reflection or critical thinking, more generally.