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About Jason

In my favourite river, the Wye

I attended a grammar school in the bad old days when that was considered provision enough for gifted children. Fed up with coasting along, I left to teach myself A Levels before reading philosophy at Corpus Christi, Cambridge. A variety of ventures followed, including online voteswapping, the manufacture of garden trellis and firework shops.

Eventually, I went into teaching, culminating in a couple of very happy years teaching English at Sutton Grammar School. During tutor time, I rotated round Year 7 forms, facilitating discussions off the back of philosophical stories. These were popular, and when I was looking for a brand name, I remembered one boy exclaiming, "Yay! It's the Philosophy Man!"

While at SGS I took over DofE and expanded the school's tradition of outdoor trips. I keep that connection through my outdoor education company, Outspark. We're an Approved Activity Partner for the DofE, and about 270 SGS boys will be having some sort of adventure with us this year as well as hundred of participants from other schools.

Since 2008 my main focus has been on Philosophy for Children. I'm a registered trainer with SAPERE and train upwards of 2,000 teachers a year in INSETs and keynotes, and work with perhaps 3,000 children a year from nursery to sixth form. I particularly value opportunities to work with both children and teachers at the same school on repeat visits, because when a school makes a big commitment  to one thing, it has a much bigger impact than skating between different initiatives.

I am extremely keen to ensure that I don't just turn up, trouser my fee and disappear without leaving much behind. So I put a lot of my energy into creating catchy concepts and practical resources that support teachers. I send out a bulletin of free resources to over 15,000 teachers each week. I also write minibooks such as Pocket P4C, Thinkers' Games and the forthcoming Help Me Find My Voice.

I had the privilege last year of attending the Advanced Seminar in P4C at the International Association for Philosophy for Children in New Jersey, and in June of this year I am presenting a paper, “Alien Adventures in Philosophy: P4C through interactive narratives”, at the conference of the North American Association for Community of Enquiry at Querétaro, Mexico.

Most importantly, I continue to practice P4C in the classroom most weeks through my workshops with primary and secondary children.

As well as P4C and outdoor education, I am Director of Studies at GIFT, an organisation providing opportunities for gifted children. I run days on philosophy, storytelling, comedy improvisation, public speaking and writing; other lecturers might be constructing crystal radios or learning how to hack computers. It's a haven where both the participants and the staff feel utterly at home.

When I'm not working, I'm into hillwalking, comedy improvisation and, just lately, caving. I live on a narrowboat in Cambridge and hope to cruise to Llangollen this summer.

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

I inherited my role as P4C coordinator from my colleague who tasked me with planning a Philosophy Day. I had looked at several workshops and was pleased to stumble across The Philosophy Man website. All the positive testimonials provided by other schools was certainly a winning factor for us. The training and workshops were simply outstanding.

All the staff had basic P4C training but did not know how to use it within their classrooms. This then acted as a CPD opportunity for all staff and this was furthered in the staff meeting. There was a buzz during the staff meeting, which for any member of staff attending a staff meeting at the end of a half term, knows this is a rare thing! All the staff said how enthused and excited they felt to get back into their classrooms and try out the methods they had been shown.

After the workshops, I interviewed some children about their experience. I deliberately picked children who really struggle with the academic side of school life. One child, who had a workshop on bargaining for his life against a Mayan tribe, said “I loved the P4C workshop. It was so much fun to think of reasons why my life was valuable and the best part was, we didn't have to do any work!”. The children saw the workshops as a chance to express themselves.

Thank you so much for inspiring us to continue with the exemplary training you provided and we look forward to working with you in the future!

Sarah Brown

Dulverton Primary School

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

Engaging, pacy, well-presented and (Tom was) knowledgable. Lots of practical ideas and links to use in lessons. Great delivery, kept us engaged all day.

Adam Dlugoszewski, Whitehouse Primary School

Made enjoyable and memorable by actually taking part in the community tasks. Lots of participation which gives clear examples of how to deliver to children. Opportunities to think and plan for our own year groups. Tom delivered the course exceptionally well - clear and fun!

Delphine Gunn, Tickford Park Primary School

Confident, fluid and entertaining. A very interactive, hands-on and practical. I particularly liked planning sessions within the course.

Caroline Prudence, Two Mile Ash School

A good balance between presenting and lots of practical activities which enabled demonstrations of key concepts. I look forward to starting back in school!

Lucy Eldridge, Two Mile Ash School

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