Getting Started

Where Do I Start?

Great question! One thing I’m constantly surprised by is the wide range of ways people find to teach Philosophy: Friday Lunch Clubs, After-School Library Meet-Ups, 5-Week Taster courses… the list goes on.

If you are looking for ideas about how to do an introductory course with your students, you should check out the fantastic 5-week framework and supporting materials developed by Assia Buono here.

Most likely, though, you’re teaching the Short Course, so read on below…

Step 1 - Get To Grips With The Curriculum

To satisfy the course requirement, you must cover "Strand 1 - Foundations for Doing Philosophy" and choose four additional strands from a list of nine.

100 hours in total across five strands gives you 20 hours per strand.

The only mandatory Strand is #1 – so the best place to start is to plan your first 20 hours of Foundations.

Which strands you choose to do next can be determined by your own interests/strengths or democratically letting students decide.

Step 2 - Understand The NCCA Specifications

The specifications document (available here...)

  1. Details the The Learning Outcomes (See below)

  2. Provides a list of "Key Concepts" that students should explore for each Strand.

  3. Provides a list of "Guiding Questions" that can help inspire your inquiries.

  4. Provides a short list of recommended resources and stimuli.

Learning Outcomes for the Philosophy Short Course - NCCA

> Introducing Philosophy

Students should be able to...

1.1 explain what philosophy is

1.2 trace the origins of philosophy and name some of its big thinkers from classical times to the modern day

1.3 identify questions that are common (shared by everybody), central (help us understand ourselves and our world) and contestable (the subject of argument and competing understandings)

1.4 identify ‘What are my big questions?’ and ‘How can I grapple with these questions?’

1.5 agree as a class some ‘big questions’ which they would like to explore as part of this course

> Building a community of enquiry

Participate in discussion by being able to:

1.6 listen carefully, critically and respectfully to other points of view

1.7 seek out different ideas and information in order to reach a more informed position

1.8 ask relevant and probing questions at the right time, for the right reason

1.9 use the language of reasoning when engaging in discussion

1.10 present a coherent argument and be able to justify it (e.g. provide examples, counter-examples, define meanings, find criteria, build on others’ ideas, see connections)

1.11 map out an argument or set of arguments (e.g. showing premise, evidence, conclusion)

1.12 express emotion in appropriate ways

> Developing tools for thinking

Students should:

1.13 help others to feel included in the group

1.14 reflect on how they have participated in the learning

1.15 think about their thinking

1.16 explain the difference between an argument, an explanation and an anecdote

1.17 when listening to someone or reading a text, be able to judge whether the speaker or writer is making a valid and sound argument

1.18 identify different types of reasoning (e.g. deductive and inductive)

1.19 identify some common weaknesses in reasoning (e.g. fallacies related to relevance, an appeal to pity or emotion, an appeal to authority, using a straw man, argumentum ad hominem, etc.) and be able to identify examples of some of these fallacies in everyday life.

Step 3 - Real Resources and a Focus on Pedagogy

Real Resources

This website is a treasure trove of FREE well-curated student-appropriate content to support (a) your deeper understanding of the subject matter and (b) to help you deliver amazing learning experiences for your students. Grab a coffee, or a glass of wine, and spend a few hours mooching around our resources section for Strand 1.

You will find Youtube Videos, Books, Lesson Plans, Worksheets, News Articles and much more!


Philosophy is typically taught using a specific pedagogy known as P4C (Philosophy4Children). This methodology is both well established and heavily supported by research.

I encourage you to learn more about this approach on our Teaching Philosophy page. Even better, find a In-Service training day with Marelle Rice or a virtual remote training session with The Philosophy Foundation. I've been lucky to be trained by both and found them to be sincere, passionate, hugely experienced and very good value.

Step 4 - Reach Out!

This is still a small, but passionate, community and I have found the teachers to be a generous and invaluable resource. So don't be shy!

You can contact me directly using Twitter, Email or Facebook. Check the Contact Page for info.