“The students become accustomed to asking each other for reasons and opinions, to listening carefully to each other, to building on each other’s ideas”

– Dr. Matthew Lipman

A student who is capable of thinking critically, stating and explaining their opinion, listening to alternative points of view, open to changing their minds and drawing conclusions, is a student who is ready for the ‘real’ world. Philosophy challenges students to look at their world and make personal decisions about their attitudes and values.

Philosophy for Children was developed by Matthew Lipman in the l970s at Montclair University in New Jersey, inspired by the work of John Dewey, Charles Peirce and Lev Vygotsky.  He developed purpose written stories, full of big ideas and concepts to provoke children’s thinking, and created Communities of Inquiry where children were able to discuss these ideas with each other.  This approach proved to be very successful as it allowed students to express their ideas, listen to and critique other people’s views and to accept challenges to their own thinking. P4C enables critical thinking and encourages children to make reasonable judgements. 

These are skills that we all aspire to and ones that don’t occur by osmosis; they need to be taught, practiced and reflected upon. In the modern education systems around the western world, thinking skills have become an important part of the classroom programme. Philosophy for Children (P4C) allows children to practise these skills in a meaningful context and is one of the cornerstones of learning at Balmoral.


Skills covered in P4C will include: 

  • asking relevant questions
  • showing sensitivity to context in discussion
  • demonstrating an ability to find relevant examples
  • showing openness to new ideas
  • identifying, justifying and clarifying idea
  • consistency when developing points of views
  • expressing ideas coherently
  • paraphrasing or building on others’ ideas
  • discussing issues with objectivity
  • accepting corrections by peers willingly
  • showing respect for members of the Community of Inquiry
  • listening to understand
  • evaluating the thinking used

These skills have wide application across the broad curriculum.