The history of P4C

P4C began in the 1960s with the beginnings of the work of Professor Matthew Lipman in the University of Montclair. He believed that practical philosophy should be recognized at an early age rather than postpone teaching it to students till university years. Therefore, he decided to return to teaching kindergarten children through a curriculum that focused on the process of philosophizing practically rather than on the theoretical content of philosophy.

In 1974 Lipman founded the Higher Institute for Teaching Philosophical Thought (The Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children IAPC) driven by his theoretical inspiration of John Dewey’s educational theories for the Community of philosophical Inquiry.

Lipman believed in the child’s ability to philosophize if he/she was exposed to a philosophic ethos that enabled him/her to respond intellectually in a simplified way that expressed a philosophical idea.

Through the application of multiple models from a number of theorists, the P4C approach seeks to activate specific educational mechanisms to design an educational model that is intellectually, cognitively and practically distinct from the traditional models of education. These models were inspired by several examples, such as Socrates and his educational model through philosophical dialogue, John Dewey and his educational pragmatism, as well as Vygotsky and his ideas on community learning

Research on P4C in schools

P4C had the biggest positive impact on disadvantaged children: they made 4 months’ additional progress in reading, 3 months’ in maths and 2 months’ in writing

EEF Project, School of Education, Durham University

The project by Northumberland Raising Aspirations in Society (NRAIS) began with 22 schools in Berwick and then developed further when over £1 million was granted from the government’s regeneration budget. The project won an award for its outstanding contribution to raising aspirations in 2005.

Gregson M. And spedding T 2004, NRAIS, northumberland raising aspiration in society

Increase in cognitive ability

Over 400 hundred students in the P4C group and 300 in the control group were followed and assessed since the age of 8 to 16 years.

Preliminary results show that P4C increases cognitive ability by 7 IQ points

The Long-term Impact of Philosophy for Children: A Longitudinal Study (Preliminary Results), ANALYTIC TEACHING AND PHILOSOPHICAL PRAXIS VOLUME 35, ISSUE 1 (2014)

Enhanced social skills

Through the Wiser Wales project, the Council for Education in World Citizenship (CEWC) supported the use of P4C in schools. The project worked with 2,750 students and trained over 1,000 teachers. Seven schools, both primary and secondary

:The changes experienced include

  •  Enhanced social skills: improved listening and speaking, increased confidence, increased concentration, strengthened relationships and the ability to disagree respectfully.
  • Stronger critical thinking: increased questioning and discussion, and ability to express a range of perspectives

Wiser Wales: Developing Philosophy for Children (P4C) in Different Schoo Contexts in Wales 2009 – 2012

Resilience to extremism

  • In sixth-form students, P4C helps them to become critical thinkers in a non-aggressive way
  • P4C gives pupils the tools to communicate with each other, so they learn how to handle conflict through dialogue
  • Handle differences of opinion

Teaching approaches that help to build resilience to extremism among young people, OPM and National Foundation for Educational Research

Models of the curriculums of P4C in America and Europe

  • The society for the advancement of philosophical inquiry and reflection on education SAPERE: The Society’s methodology of developing philosophical thinking and inquiry in education
  • Joanna Haynes and Karin Murris, philosophy through picture books: The curriculum of Joanna Haynes and Karen Morris, who introduced children’s comic books stories in P4C applications.
  • Leonard Nelson for Socratic dialogue: Leonard Nelson’s methodology of Socratic dialogue, committed to the idea of regressive abstraction.
  • Catherine C.McCall: Socrates: Socrates for six year old : The methodology of Dr. Catherine McCall for the Socratic Dialogue with six years old children.
  • The Philosophy Foundation by Peter Worley: Methodology of the British philosophy organization headed by Peter Warley, who uses the style of the storyteller in the Socratic dialogue.
  •   Dialogueworks founded by Roger Sutcliffe : The methodology of DialogueWorks led by Roger Sutcliffe’s who is interested in the development of curriculums of philosophical thinking for the purposes of international training and spreading the approach beyond Europe and North America, including the Arabic region.