Philosophy for/with Children was developed in the early 1970s by the Professor of Education at Montclair University, Matthew Lipman, as a method to help children develop the capacity to reason and philosophise. P4C is now practised in over 60 countries and numerous research studies from around the world testify to its effectiveness at developing critical thinking skills, raising attainment and improving social skills. It is no surprise then that in recent years the approach has flourished in the UK.
The approach is skills based and student orientated, with measureable and sustained academic gains for pupils. For example, the British Journal of Educational Psychology published research in 2007 undertaken by Trickey and Topping which found that P4C sessions once a week for a school year can increase IQ by an average of 6 points as measured by CAT scores. This correlates with a 20% improvement in the chance of achieving a particular grade at GCSE. But an academic advantage is not the only benefit of P4C and the method has also been seen to improve emotional intelligence, social cohesion and social interaction with a significant reduction in behaviour problems in schools that have embedded the method in their curriculum.
Broadly speaking, the P4C structure has ten steps to enable participants to become a community of enquiring minds and identifies 4 Thinking C's, namely Critical, Caring, Collaborative and Creative to help with this endeavour. P4C is a democratic model and participants decide for themselves the best way to reach the outcomes through negotiation, investigation, creativity, reflection and evaluation. The process encourages participants to develop the ability to reason and think as a community as well as individually and is incredibly popular with students because it is such good fun.
P4C: A Brief Introduction