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About The Philosophy Man

Whilst teaching English at Sutton Grammar School, Jason Buckley rotated around Year 7 forms, facilitating discussions off the back of philosophical stories. These were popular, and years later when he was looking for a name for this website, he remembered one boy exclaiming “Yay, it’s the Philosophy Man!”

From small beginnings in 2008, The Philosophy Man is now the leading independent provider of P4C training and workshops. We now have two full-time trainers –  Jason Buckley and Tom Bigglestone, and we work with a small group of associate trainers too. We send weekly email bulletins to nearly 16,000 educators worldwide, and train upwards of 2,000 teachers a year through INSETS and Keynotes in our streamlined and accessible Philosophy Circles approach to P4C. We spend as much time in the classroom as we do delivering courses, and we’re both in schools week-in, week-out ‘showing our working’ in front of children of all ages.

We’re extremely keen to make sure we don’t just turn up, trouser our fee and disappear without leaving much behind. We put a lot of energy into creating memorable, interactive sessions supported by practical resources. For example, all school bookings come with 100+ pick-up-and-go session plans for every subject in the curriculum; a Philosophy Circles handbook for every member of staff, as well as a mini-books of Thinkers’ Games and Pocket P4C. More about our Philosophy Circles training can be found under Training and Workshops.

We are continually creating new resources, sharing improvements to the training and expanding our horizons. We’re training more teachers, delivering more workshops, and giving more presentations than ever before, and this year have started working in Singapore, returning there and to Oz and NZ next year.

About Jason Buckley

The Founder and Director of The Philosophy Man. A life-long philosopher and former teacher, English, Jason is now an internationally renowned trainer, writer and speaker on P4C, classroom dialogue and stretching the more-able. He is author of two books, with more in the pipeline. He is also an outdoor educator, storyteller and improviser, and all these skills come together in his lively training, with minimum of Death by PowerPoint.

Click here to find out more about Jason Buckley →

About Tom Bigglestone

Tom's courses are incredibly well-received thanks to his several years’ teaching experience. He has been Head of Department at both primary and secondary level, and in both the maintained and private sector. He has specialised for several years in P4C, and in 2014 was awarded The Walter Hines Page scholarship, for which he spent time in the United States researching assessment of philosophical skills. He brings his vast classroom experience and know-how into his energetic and interactive training.

Click here to find out more about Tom Bigglestone →

About Philosophy for Children (P4C)

Philosophy for Children is an approach to education that puts philosophical enquiry at the heart of the learning process.

It emerged from the work of Matthew Lipman, a US philosophy professor. He wanted his undergraduates to think for themselves, not just demand answers they could regurgitate in exams.

The method he developed is now used in over 60 countries with schoolchildren of all ages. A recent study by the EEF found that regular P4C boosted children's literacy and numeracy test results and contributed to closing the gap between disadvantaged learners and the average (or "diminishing the difference", if the government hasn't yet changed it to "minimizing the mismatch"!).

Rather than the teacher asking a question, in a traditional P4C enquiry, children are given a “stimulus” such as a story or picture book, and create their own questions in response. That's one option within the Philosophy Circles. However, in an increasingly crowded curriculum, it can be time-consuming to go through the entire process on a regular basis, which is why we developed the three principles of Philosophy Circles.

They seek out philosophical questions, ones that involve important ideas about which people can have different views, and then vote for the one they think will lead to the most fruitful discussion.

The fact that neither you nor the children know what you are going to end up discussing makes the process exciting.

Once the question is chosen, a discussion begins in which the pupils sit in a circle and pass the opportunity to speak between themselves.

Pupils hold each other accountable for good reasoning; agreeing and disagreeing with each other without being disagreeable.

The teacher acts as facilitator to keep the discussion focused and to push for greater depth of thinking; but while a typical classroom discussion is a series of questions and answers mediated by a teacher who is already an authority on the subject, in P4C the participants have to create their own map to search for answers that they find plausible and well supported.

P4C develops thinking that is critical, using reasoned moves to build arguments; collaborative, with the sharing and challenging of ideas; creative in the willingness to speculate, take risks and imagine; and caring, because everything is set up to foster consideration and respect for one another.

The last paragraph is a quote from my mini-book, Pocket P4C, which is my potted guide to the method and techniques for implementing it. For a fuller explanation of the method, take a look in the “About P4C” section on P4C.com

I’m uncomfortable sounding like a mystic, but it is genuinely hard to convey how different and powerful P4C can be to someone who hasn’t done it.

That’s why there is a big emphasis in P4C training on allowing teachers to enjoy philosophical enquiry as participants: once they have tried it for themselves, teachers become passionate about bringing the same experience to their pupils.

The best analogy I can give for how P4C differs from regular teaching and learning is that it’s like the difference between storytelling and story reading.

The connection between the participants is stronger and more “live”, and when it works well it is a very special way of being with people of any age, a sort of meeting of minds at one another's best.

Testimonials

It has been fascinating to watch the children engage with a range of challenging topics with maturity, enthusiasm and empathy thanks to the facilitation provided by Tom. Their curiosity was inspired by the thought-provoking stimuli in each session and several individuals, who usually find it challenging to share their ideas, came to the fore during the big discussions.

Since commencing P4C, we have noticed a dramatic increase in the children’s ability to discuss concepts with their peers and they have vastly improved in their ability in looking at one another when speaking, in actively listening to one another and in building upon and challenging others’ views and opinions. Before the lessons started, the children were not listening deeply to one another and responding to one another constructively – they had their opinion and that was it.

Mrs. S Johnson and Mr. J Hall

Year 6 Teachers, Amesbury Primary School

I was extremely cynical about P4C prior to today's experience, this is despite my belief that critical thinking is a crucial skill that all children should be taught and/or encouraged to develop. That was until about fifteen minutes into your Year 4 session today. Watching the children transition from anarchic arguments about 'silly things' to thoughtful group discussion on a serious topic (the causes of poverty) was eye opening and quite staggering.

The commentary for the benefit of the staff during the Y4 session was extremely helpful in understanding why you were doing what you were doing.

Combined with the staff training session the day was one of the best CPD experiences I've ever had.

Adam,

Year 4 teacher

We have been keen to establish P4C for some time in our school, believing it to be a natural part of our three-layered G&T programme.

It was great to work with Jason who consolidated and extended our prior knowledge and really made us believe that not to implement P4C would be a grave mistake on our part. The children loved it and talked about it a lot the following day, asking when we were next going to do philosophy.

It is a testament to Jason's energy and commitment that he managed to enthuse the staff during a twilight session in darkest January and several expressed regret that we hadn't put aside a whole day.

I am keen to get Jason back into school to work with our younger pupils now - he has a natural affinity with the children but still managed to make the adults laugh and wish to get involved.

Ann Geeves

Year 5 Teacher, Challenge Programme Co-ordinator, R A Butler School

I just wanted to say thank you for the training you did in Lydney last week. It was a fab day and as a result... We are now going to roll out p4c across the school from September! The head has given me responsibility for thinking skills and we are going for the thinking school's accreditation. All very exciting!

Rachael,

Teacher

After an inspiring and informative Inset Day, led by Tom, all staff were eager to try out P4C strategies and felt strongly about the principles P4C promoted.

P4C has enabled children to voice their opinions in a calm and controlled manner whilst having their views challenged. It has provided them with time to critically think about their own morals, beliefs and thoughts.

We invited Tom back for Interfaith Day! Through P4C, children naturally made comparisons and built upon their RE knowledge. Children thoroughly enjoyed the current and interactive assemblies, pitched appropriately for each Key Stage.

The weekly bulletins inspire and instigate current discussions with the children which can occur in many curriculum areas. The mini resource booklets are great too as they are concise and clear. The resources are practical, effective and require very little preparation- which is great!

Though we have separate P4C sessions, we have easily and seamlessly begun to use it in other curriculum areas.

Just fantastic!

Kayleigh Dell

Greenway Primary School, Herts

Superb – the best course of 15 years teaching experience.

Anita

Teacher, Frances Bardsley Girls’ School

'Best INSET ever. Fantastically resourced, well paced and great learning.'

'Got us all thinking. Lots of brilliant ideas to use in the classroom. Really interactive.'

'I am going to take up Philosophy! Very thought provoking!'

'Activities are challenging to the thought process. I intend to use all of them in my teaching.'

'Excellent ideas to encourage children to think and debate. Also to question their opinions in a safe environment.'

'Great pace and presentation.'

Teaching Staff

Greenway Primary School

'This was a very active, informative session and has provoked a lot of ideas about how I can implement it in my classroom.'

'Outstanding presentation.'

'Great facilitator with lots of energy!'

'Fab! Lots of hints and tips and great interactive demonstrations. I now feel confident to have a go at implementing in a science lesson.'

'Absolutely excellent, thank you!''Really brilliant - has given me lots of ideas. Am excited anboit applying these in my classroom.'

Teachers

London 2016 TeachFirst Conference

I just wanted to drop you a message to say thank you so much for such a fab session on Tuesday. I thought it was informative, relevant and full of very useable practical ideas which will definitely be used in my year two classroom. 

Thank you once again.

Sophie Vellacott

Year 2 Teacher

‘An excellent way to develop critical thinking and confidence’

Jill Wright

‘An extremely useful session – children need to be critical thinkers’

Sarah Smith

‘Really thought provoking and interesting’

Hannah Thompson

‘A fabulous day that has inspired me to reflect upon everything;

Sophie Rigby

'Excellent day, very useful, really enjoyed this lesson’Carmaleta Henshaw

Carmaleta Henshaw

‘All very relevant and easy to relate to. A creative way to engage adults and encourage / inspire them to plan differently. Clear progression from Year 1-6’

Sophie Hadwin

‘Great examples given to enable children to become critical thinkers’

Claudia Cotton

Teachers at Whitefield Primary School, Liverpool

Fantastic training where all staff were highly engaged and are now ready to start the P4C strategies at school. Very well organised, fun for all and lots of ideas to use immediately.

Andrea Wadsworth

Crosslee Primary School, Manchester

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for yesterday's Interfaith Day. The children had a wonderful day and the assemblies were fantastic. The children are buzzing with P4C and continuing to talk about the workshops.

Year 1 Teacher

Greenway Primary School

Got a question about P4C at your school?

If you are interested in pupil workshops, staff training, or have a question about P4C, please fill in this form or email us. We'll be happy to discuss your schools needs.

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