Author Archives: Dot Lenton

  1. Coming up for air!

    Barbara and I have been working away at an article – Is philosophy what you think? – and then spent over 2,600 words explaining why it might not be. There are many misconceptions out there. We wanted to explore and explode some of these myths. The article may well appear in one of these blogs in the future – but for now I will leave you with one tantalising bit: What is the point of philosophy?

    The point is to enable children to explore and deepen their thinking, to be exposed to other’s ideas, to gain confidence and become independent learners. Done well, philosophy teaches children skills for life and learning: an ability to question beyond the obvious; to disagree respectfully, giving considered reasons. This impacts on all areas of the curriculum. As one five-year-old said, “philosophy is about everything we do”. How very true.

  2. Thinking in Dulwich

    Philosophy4Children enjoyed an exciting and rewarding session at Dulwich College Preparatory School in London last Monday. The enthusiasm and commitment of all the staff was very encouraging. Their involvement in the experiential session was great! The genuine desire to pursue excellence is clearly seen – there is a real buzz about the school. We would also recommend their excellent breakfast! We would like to visit this school again!

  3. Tailored to your needs

    One of the most important aspects of the training we offer is that it is tailored exactly to the needs of each school we visit. We recently returned to a school we first worked with a couple of years ago and found them still passionate about philosophy. As there were several teachers new to the school we split into two groups – Dot lead one group through what philosophy is and, just as important, what it is not! The second group, who had been using philosophy for some time, looked at the role of facilitator and developing questioning techniques. Feedback from both groups was very positive “…lots of good ideas on questioning to extend children” and, from a teacher new to philosophy, “I would feel confident holding a philosophy session after this training session”.

  4. Partnership at Henley

    Visiting the Henley partnership schools proved interesting, if somewhat crowded. All fifty of us were packed into the ICT suite – kindly provided by the high school. However trying to have eye contact with all members of the group was a real challenge! The staff demonstrated that they are keen to extend and continue their work in listening skills with their pupils. Although we were a large group in a smallish space, we just about managed to split into two for the experiential workshops. It was difficult not to overhear, and become distracted by, what the others were saying – so a lesson for us in future is to make sure that the venue is big enough! We were warmly welcomed and one member of staff said of the session: “Yes it was very useful. I think my own philosophy for learning is very similar to the ethos of this session.”

  5. Gifted and Talented workshop

    After working in a summer school for gifted and talented pupils in a Suffolk High School we received some encouraging feedback – particularly from the pupils. One year 6 girl said: “The philosophy session today was really interesting because it made me think more than usual about every-day life, about all the opportunities there are to stretch myself and think about something I haven’t thought about before.” One of the teachers said that it made the students stop and think more deeply about the topics we introduced and “it was interesting to see how they dealt with questions that have no right answers”. The Assistant Headteacher was so impressed with the way in which the pupils had responded to the challenging questioning that she is considering how it can be successfully incorporated into the school curriculum.

    The school also rated the content as “excellent”. For presentation the assistant headteacher wrote: “Professional delivery in a manner that both encouraged and engaged our students.” It was a very enjoyable experience for us too.

  6. Thinking really hard

    It was very exciting to work with a school that has a strong mission to get all its children thinking really hard! The staff at Swaffham Infant School are a dedicated group who are keen to give their children time to listen, reflect and respond. During the first session we talked briefly about the history of P4C – particularly looking at examples of how easy it is to dismiss children’s thoughts and ideas without really pursuing them.

    Later in our experiential session we talked about how modern living can have a negative impact on exploration. One member of staff wrote to us and said,

    “I just wanted to say a big thank you for the training you gave today at Swaffham Infant School. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and found the whole concept fascinating. I really do hope that all schools will start using philosophy for children, for all ages. I think it would benefit young people immensely.
    Thank you again for a truly interesting training session.”

  7. Philosphy4Children moving on

    A very exciting, and excitable, group of teachers met at Woodside Infant and Nursery School in Hethersett last week. They have been pioneers in using philosophy for children in the classroom and wanted to see how that could move their children on into even deeper thinking. Philosophy4Children were able to help! We looked at the art of questioning itself and considered the tools that the facilitator needs to do this successfully. We also considered the nature of the questions themselves – how children’s open imaginative questions can move into the philosophical. We looked at the way in which children’s questions can cover all aspects of philosophical thought. Their questions range from the ethical (right and wrong) right through the social and political (rights and laws) spectrum to the epistemological (does science give us the right answers?) through to aesthetics and logic. We had a good session and staff seemed fired up to move on to the next level!!

  8. New term, new start

    Philosophy4Children spent a very enjoyable day delivering training to Rockland and Surlingham Schools. The schools have recently formed a partnership. The head teacher and her staff are wanting to work together and are keen to embed Philosophy4Children into their curriculum. Everyone took part enthusiastically and, after a technical hiccup at the start, the day went smoothly. Some staff have experience in this method of teaching, and for some it was a new approach. We began by asking three questions:

    Why do children come to school?

    What does it mean to learn?

    Do we need to teach in order for children to learn?

    This started some lively discussions before we went into learning mode ourselves. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the group and from comments at the end it seems to have been a very productive day.

  9. School Of Creativity Conference June 18th, 2010

    Move forward button on our calendar to June to find out more about the exciting conference taking place at Barnham Broom with the School of Creativity. The day will be led by well-known speakers Chris Watkins and Luke Abbott. Not only will there be opportunities to learn about the inquiry curriculum, but also a chance to speak to children from a school who are using the Mantle of the Expert approach to learning. Should be an exciting and rewarding day.

    Delegates should sign up for the conference by emailing

  10. Training in the snow.

    On a snowy morning in North Norfolk we had an
    excellent session working with a large group of enthusiastic primary school
    teachers and teaching assistants. Once we had the technology working everything
    went well! The focus of the training was looking at the way in which
    Philosophy4Children can be utilised to improve children’s writing. It was
    excellent to revisit this work, as it formed part of the action research that
    Barbara and I had undertaken for the Thinking Schools, Thinking Children
    project initiated by Norfolk Local Education Authority. The staff were not
    short of ideas which ranged from diary writing to hot seating and play scripts.