The importance of P4C in education

SAPERE is the Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education. Here they discuss the importance of Philosophy for Children in education and how you can incorporate P4C in the classroom.

Founded in 1992, we are the UK’s national charity promoting Philosophy for Children (P4C). P4C encourages children to think critically, creatively, collaboratively and caringly. We help children, particularly those facing disadvantage, to become lifelong learners.

P4C is a worldwide movement founded 35 years ago by Professor Matthew Lipman. Today it is practiced in some 60 countries. Research shows that it has a positive impact on children’s cognitive, social and emotional development.

P4C is about getting children to think and communicate well; to think better for themselves.

Sapere logoAt SAPERE we offer teachers and educators a quality-assured programme of training and support to successfully embed high-quality, sustainable P4C in their educational setting.

In P4C, children are taught how to create their own philosophical questions. They then choose one question that is the focus of a philosophical enquiry, or dialogue. For example, the question might be ‘is it ever ok to steal?’.


The teacher, as facilitator, supports the children in their thinking, reasoning and questioning, as well as in the way they speak and listen to each other.

After the enquiry, the children and facilitator reflect on the quality of the thinking, reasoning and participation, and suggest how they could improve; either as individuals or as a group (community).

The community enquires together into concepts such as equality, fairness, rights, empathy, diversity and power. P4C is therefore an ideal tool in global citizenship education. Indeed, it has been used successfully so in the UK for 20 years. An Oxfam-funded ‘Philosophy for Global Citizenship’ project yielded partnerships with development education centres and the creation of resources and training that have a particular focus on global issues. We currently work with the following centres:

Many DEC colleagues are also registered SAPERE trainers, including Jane Yates, who was named as Think Global’s Global Educator of the Year in 2017.

CDEC recently published an excellent new resource funded by the EU Global Schools Project, Philosophy for Global Learning that includes many tried and tested ideas for P4C.

Last year we collaborated with ActionAid to create resources on tax injustice, Tax, Fairness and Philosophy for Children. P4C is also recommended in Oxfam’s recently updated Teaching Controversial Issues guide for teachers.

Philosophy for Children is recommended in the Cambridge Primary Review Trust Report Sustainability and Global Understanding (2015-16): Many global learning resources share similar pedagogical approaches that involve active participation and discussion. Philosophy for Children (P4C), for example, uses a dialogical approach to learning and its popular resources include materials focused on global issues, looking at issues from different viewpoints and encouraging critical thinking. (p 20)

You can find out more about Philosophy for Children and Philosophy for Global Citizenship on the SAPERE website

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