Teaching philosophy


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

A very short precis would be to say that P4C is interesting in these respects...

A. Role of the Teacher

This can be a little hairy at first, but the teacher's role is to create a safe community of inquiry where they can act as a facilitator of the discussion and not an authoritative instructor. This takes practice but can be extremely rewarding. Its also a great investment of time. Well facilitated classes will generate their own 'content', relieving the burden of extensive materials prep on you.

B. Skills and Subject Matter

The assimilation of a "body of knowledge" is not the key goal, rather it is to develop the student's capacity to reason well, consider alternative viewpoints, participate respectfully in a community and be comfortable in ambiguity. These goals are, to an extent, reflected in the perhaps unusual learning outcomes listed in the specification.

C. Lesson Structure

Most philosophy methodologies for children contain the following elements (Assume 45min)

Warm Up Game - Students will be considering difficult and contentious topics they may not have the confidence/comfort to explore publicly...yet! A game is a great way to begin the 'serious fun'. (3 min)

Stimulus - This website has a huge range of possible stimulus from videos to magazine articles and interactive games. But the stiumulus can be anything: Short stories or films do work particularly well to set the topic of the discussion (5 min)

Discussion - Break the students into small groups/pairs and get their immediate reaction to the stimulus. (5 min)

Question Selection - In the early weeks you may choose to prepare a question before the class. As your confidence grows there are some great ideas about soliciting and voting on a 'Key/Anchor Question' . (5 min)

Inquiry - The main part of the class will be occupied with the inquiry where you, as facilitator, will encourage students to provide reasons for their answers, to interrogate in a respectful way eachother's responses and to think critically about philosophically meaningful problems. (20 min)

Reflection - Students should consider if they have changed their original positions and why? You could discuss what went well and what didn't. (3 min)



Lesson Planning

Classroom Observations

Make The Case