Archive: 2012

  1. The most effective day I’ve spent training…

    We recently led a conference for the Norfolk Association of Primary Head Teachers in the beautiful location of Mangreen Hall just outside Norwich. There was a great mix of headteachers, teachers and ex heads. We had a really interesting day looking at the history of philosophy in schools, philosophy in the context of school life and the demands of the curriculum plus, of course, a philosophical enquiry. Lots of positive feedback, here are three comments:

    “Inspirational ideas from inspirational ladies”.

    “Very clear and facilitative, grounded in experience and a good balance of active participation and thinking / listening”

    “It’s great to have first hand experiences of all the things we talked about. I feel much clearer about P4C. I think the most effective day I’ve spent training out of school.”

  2. What will the children be put through?

    Following our trip to Gateshead we travelled to London to work with a school in Islington. The staff were very welcoming and we had a great morning exploring philosophical ideas. Feed back was very positive – in response to our question “Was the session useful, if so how?” here are three replies:

    “Yes indeed, you gave us plenty of information but also plenty of time to think for ourselves and understand the value of this for the children.”

    “Yes, it resulted in some really deep self reflection of my teaching (and self!) which has helped me to focus on areas for self development. Very interesting ideas and strategies for dealing with possible situations.”

    “It was very useful because it formed a coherent whole, linking theory to practice as well as demonstrating how a session actually works, so that we can see what the children will be put through.”

  3. Free Thinking!

    We were delighted to work with The BBC at the weekend. The Free Thinking Festival at The Sage in Gateshead took place over three days with inspiring and thought provoking speakers such as authors Philippa Gregory and Amos Oz, presenters Andrew Marr and Samira Ahmed, academics from Oxford, Cambridge and Essex universities – an amazing three days of debate, new ideas and challenging thoughts. On Saturday Philosophy4Children ran two family sessions which we thoroughly enjoyed and the feedback from participants shows they enjoyed it as well. “The two leaders were clear and welcoming… they made us feel safe so that we could share our ideas and thoughts.”  Another response was “Thought provoking, delivered well in an inclusive of all manner, stimulating!”  and “A brilliant starting point for my seven year old daughter, thank you.”  Highlights of the Free Thinking Festival are being broadcast at 10pm each evening this week – do try to listen!

  4. Philosophy4Children working with the BBC

    Barbara and are delighted to be working with BBC Radio 3 during their Free Thinking Festival in November. “Them and Us” is this year’s festival theme and creates the perfect backdrop for the open enquiry that Philosophy4Chidren promotes. Do come and see us at The Sage in Gateshead on Saturday 3rd November, where we are doing a couple of Philosophy4Children sessions. Go to for more information about the event under Free thinking Festival 2012. Hope to see you there!

  5. Back to basics with Philosophy4Children

    Barbara and I enjoyed a back-to-basics session at Kersey Church of England VC Primary School yesterday. Back to basics for us in learning how to decipher an atlas and find the village, let alone the school. We did eventually arrive – bang on the scheduled start time! This didn’t leave us too much time to get set up, but the staff were lovely and very helpful in helping us navigate their new computer system. It was a very enjoyable session, with everyone contributing in the experiential session. Questions were just getting to that deeper level when it was time to stop. This is so often the way with philosophy sessions with children in school. We are always reluctant to leave the schools that we are working with. However we did manage to find our way home with yet another note to selves – buy a satnav!

  6. Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development

    If we want to change the world, then – as Confucius says – we need to” educate the children”. But education is more than learning facts. Schools regularly face spiritual, moral, social and cultural dilemmas that need to be addressed. philosophy4children gives children an exciting but safe place in which to do this – a place where they can let their thoughts and ideas fly, and begin to explore the the big issues in life, such as the nature of God. In this place children are not afraid to get the answers wrong – because there are no right ones. Any answers they give are respected and taken seriously.

    This is part of an article that we wrote and it appeared in Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development: a Christian perspective see

  7. I disagree with myself now!

    When children are engaged in a philosophical enquiry you will often hear words like “I think I disagree with myself now.” This demonstrates they have been through a process where they have had an idea, shared it, listened to other’s thoughts and have been persuaded someone else’s idea has value. Children are so much more open to changing their minds than many adults are – one example where we, as teachers, can learn from our children.

  8. That’s philosophy for you!

    ” It was very reassuring to know that both presenters had taught philosophy in their role as teachers. The benefit of this came across in their presentation.” This comment is from one teacher at the last school we visited.

    The training we deliver in schools is experiential and intended to challenge the thinking of those taking part. This comment from the last training session expresses this: “I thought the presentation was very informative and entertaining. The content was interesting and thought provoking – which I wasn’t expecting”

    Well, that’s philosophy for you!

  9. The act of thinking

    Barbara and I were delighted to be asked to write another article for Primary Teacher Update. Our second article has appeared in the May issue and is entitled The Act of Thinking. In this article we explore the possibility that children’s thoughts can actually be seen in action! Thinking is not a passive activity – ideas and thought are flying around all the time. They change and develop – they are changed by what we see, what we do, what we feel and by the interactions that we make with others’ thoughts and ideas. It is an exciting process and so should learning be. We believe that Philosophy4Children can stimulate this process and lead to exciting and dynamic thinking and learning!

  10. What is happiness?

    What is happiness? Can happiness be sustained for long periods of time? Do we need to experience unhappiness in order to feel happy? What is the difference between being happy and being contented? Such a lot of questions arose during our visit to a school in Thames Ditton today!

    The training we delivered today was an introductory session which centres on a philosophical enquiry, this enables teachers to have first hand experience of how an enquiry works as well as seeing and discussing how philosophy can best fit into their school and classrooms. The enquiry didn’t finish for us when we left the school – Dot and I were discussing the nature of happiness on the journey home too!