Philosophy for Children

Engaging and practical ways to use P4C with all students

Developing critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinking

Philosophy for Children (P4C), or some variation of it, is practised in over 60 countries around the world and has a history stretching back over 40 years. The underlying principle is for children and young people to experience rational and reasonable dialogue about things that matter to them and their teachers. All participants work together in a ‘community of enquiry’. The aim for each participant is to become clearer, more accurate, less self-contradictory and more aware of other arguments and values before reaching a conclusion.

P4C is why Challenging Learning is one of the leading innovators it is today. We have been using the approach with 3-19-year-olds since the early 90s, and members of our team can be seen on various TV documentaries using the approach. We offer accredited training, support, online materials and keynote speeches about P4C. As Robert Sternberg, former president of the American Psychological Society, once said: “No programme I am aware of is more likely to teach durable and transferable thinking skills than Philosophy for Children.”

Our courses on P4C cover these key topics:

  • How P4C is one of the very best ways to develop dialogue, thinking skills, metacognition and collaborative approaches to learning
  • The best questioning and facilitation techniques to ensure P4C supports students’ everyday learning
  • A guide to resources and inquiry structures so that P4C is relevant for students of all ages. This can include a complimentary subscription to, the international resource and collaboration site for P4C that was co-founded by James Nottingham
  • The ways in which P4C can be used to develop a growth mindset; enhance student motivation and resilience; and how it links with the SOLO taxonomy as well as metacognitive and higher order thinking skills
  • We offer demonstration lessons – give us any group of students and we will show you how effective P4C can be in developing critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinking

Why P4C is so important to Challenging Learning

Our founder James Nottingham, has been practising Philosophy for Children (P4C) since 1992. He studied the approach as part of his university degree and used it as a teacher and leader in schools and pre-schools in the UK. After appearing in a televised documentary about P4C in 1999, James left full-time teaching to focus on the development of a social regeneration project, using P4C as the catalyst for change. Developing the approach over 6 years with hundreds of schools and community groups, this project won an award for the special contribution it had made to raising the aspirations and achievements of young people in the north east of England.

In 2006, James spoke at international conference in Oslo leading to the growth of P4C networks across Scandinavia. He was then instrumental in adapting P4C for use with 3-5-year-olds, as well as the more usual age groups of 5-18.

He is a senior trainer for SAPERE (the charity that supports P4C in the UK), and a member of ICPIC (the international council for P4C). James also co-founded, a not-for-profit cooperative sharing resources and expertise with interested teachers and parents around world.

Jill Nottingham trained in P4C in the late 1990s, and quickly made it central to her teaching in early years and primary schools in Northumberland. She co-wrote the first P4C Handbook for SAPERE and – like James – is a senior trainer for the UK charity.

All of James and Jill’s books draw significantly on the P4C tradition. Indeed, you could be forgiven for thinking that Challenging Learning, Encouraging Learning, Challenging Learning Through Dialogue, and The Learning Challenge: Guiding Students Through the Learning Pit are all actually P4C texts under different titles!

With P4C being at the heart of their thinking and values, James and Jill tend also to recruit teachers and leaders who place a similar value on the approach. That is why you will find that all of our consultants are able to guide you in the best ways to understand and apply P4C in your context.

We invite you to get in touch to book your P4C training.

Book a Course on P4C

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