Philosophy for Children (P4C)

philosophyThe 15 minute forum tonight was led by Lucy Darling (English teacher and Learning Leader – @DarlingDurr), looking at how she has been developing P4C within her own lessons.  For those who are unfamiliar, it uses visual stimuli to generate enquiry questions, that students can then discuss and work through together.

“The development of ‘Philosophy for Children’, is a powerful tool which both excites the pupils and gives them the confidence to explore stimulating and challenging ideas and concepts.” Ofsted Report, Feb 2007

Ground work – Question types.

The first stage is to discuss different question types with students.  So look at the following picture (or any other picture) and then discuss the different type of questions that could arise from it:


  • Comprehension questionsLook and see e.g. ‘What season is the painting set in? What can you see in the water?’
  • Knowledge and research questionsAsk an expert or go and find out e.g. ‘Who painted the picture? When was it painted?’
  • Speculation questions Use your imagination e.g. ‘Why is the boat there? Are there any people in the boat? What might happen to them?’
  • Enquiry questions – Questions for thinking e.g. ‘Is nature the greatest force in earth? Can humans control nature?’

In terms of developing P4C, students should be encouraged to think of enquiry questions.

How to deliver P4C

1. Have a form of stimulus – before starting you may want to show examples of different question types and get the students to think about what makes an enquiry question (as above)

2. Students have to write down any words/ phrases that come to mind when looking or listening or whatever, at the stimulus.

3. Students get into small groups and share what they thought about and why.

4. Students create enquiry questions in their groups. These are questions that do not have a definitive answer but will create discussion and allow students to deepen their thinking.

5. Students select their best question.

6. Sit in a circle and students without your direction place one at a time, their question on the floor.

7. Teacher reads the questions out loud making sure they are enquiry questions. If they’re not then teacher asks students to turn them into such. Then the students try to see whether the questions are linked and move them accordingly, explaining why they’ve moved them as they have.

8. Students, (with their eyes shut), vote on their favourite (one they find most interesting) enquiry question.

9. Question is decided and the discussion begins.

10. Teacher encourages students to talk but does not force them. Teacher explains that if they want to speak they must place their hand out. Teacher also explains that ideas do not have to be directed at the teacher as you are simply the facilitator. Remind students of the need to be respectful.

11. If the discussion goes in a different direction then change the question to another enquiry question.

12. Remember discussions should be about the enquiry question.

Prior to the 15 minute forum tonight, teachers on twitter were asked for their thoughts on P4C via padlet.  Responses follow:


This entry was posted in 15 Minute Forums and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Philosophy for Children (P4C)

  1. Sue marooney says:

    Well done Lucy and thank you

  2. Pingback: The Big Idea – Questioning | Class Teaching

  3. Pingback: Class Teaching | Sharing best practice in secondary teaching and learning « The Road to RIO

  4. Pingback: What’s the point of Philosophy for Children? – Rethinking education

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