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What is Philosophy Circles?

What’s the difference between Philosophy Circles and “traditional” P4C?

When we work with schools that have already tried Philosophy for Children, we often get feedback such as, “When we had philosophy training before, we wanted to do it. But now we know how to make it work.”

All P4C gets children thinking about challenging questions, and teachers act as facilitators rather than knowledge-givers. Traditional P4C follows a series of stages. Children see or read a stimulus, think about the ideas in it, create questions, evaluate the questions, and then choose one to talk about. In Philosophy Circles, the facilitator usually asks the first question, so the discussion gets started faster. The children’s own questions are still important, but they emerge through discussion. Rather than stages, Philosophy Circles is built around three facilitation principles which run through the whole process. It makes it more fast-paced and versatile for use across the curriculum.

Philosophy Circles

The traditional way of doing P4C, in stand-alone sessions of around one hour, doesn’t fit in your timetable. Teaching staff, already under pressure from all the things they need to squeeze in to the week, are wary of taking on “yet another thing”, and don’t feel they are ready to plan what to do and know that they are “doing it right”. So, although you want to, you lack the support you need to take the plunge.

The philosophy never gets to the children, and they never get the benefits of talking independently about challenging questions. Your quiet children stay quiet, and never get the chance to get their ideas out to the wider world. So how do you take philosophy from “nice idea” to something that is embedded in the life of your school?

The traditional arc of a P4C Enquiry takes 50 minutes to 1 hour. We would still advocate for this as the destination, but for many schools it's such a big commitment that it prevents them taking the first steps. Each Philosophy Circles session can fit into 30 minutes, and because it is a different way of exploring existing content, it's not "yet another thing to do"; instead, another way to do things. It explores your existing topics and texts for deep discussion opportunities, often drawing on "in role" scenarios to combine creative and critical thinking.

To help you embed P4C as easily and effectively as possible, we have designed a Philosophy Circles School Pack, comprised of Teachers' Handbooks, 100+ session plans for every subject in the curriculum, and online video tutorials.

To purchase, simply go to our Shop, or click on the product links at the bottom of the page. You can pay by card or paypal but most people choose to have an invoice sent to the school for payment later.

Click here to download a sample set of our Philosophy Circles session plans.

"After 30 plus years of teaching, advisory and inspection experience I thought I’d seen plenty of innovative and exciting approaches in the classroom...

After 30 plus years of teaching, advisory and inspection experience I thought I’d seen plenty of innovative and exciting approaches in the classroom but whilst sitting in a session led by Tom I couldn’t help feeling that here was something new and of superior standing. Philosophy Circles is like a magic portal (dare I say TARDIS….bigger on the inside!). I've been carrying it around in my handbag for months. Just 50 pages but packed with an ever expanding wealth of resources and don’t get me started on what it feels like when you try them out in class. As the book says ‘take the road less travelled’ and it will make ALL the difference to your class!" 

Sharon Hallis

Advisor and Inspector, Wiltshire

Get Moving

Compelling, physically active openings to promote everybody’s engagement. How to bring playground confidence into the classroom and create engagement from the first minute.

Y-Questions

Opportunities for sustained disagreement that create CHALLENGE. How to spot juicy philosophical questions within your existing subjects to generate deeper learning.

Take a Back Seat

The crucial shift in the teacher’s role and status that give children INDEPENDENCE. How to plan less and feel confident in letting discussion grow organically.

Philosophy Circles is the result of over two thousand hours of trial, experimentation and reflection with children and teachers, identifying the characteristics of effective P4C sessions. The first hour of P4C you do will have the benefit of that experience behind it. The way the method is structured and presented is also the result of extensive study into the optimal way for new information to be absorbed.

Philosophy Circles School Packs

We have put together two packages of Philosophy Circles resources so that schools that can't yet access training from us can still get the benefits. We are confident that you'll like what you read, and love what you then go and teach. If you decide afterwards to get us in for some training or workshops, the price of your School Pack will be deducted from the cost of the day.

The Philosophy Circles Handbook

It's easy to write a long book, but it takes a lot of careful thought to write a short one that people will read and put into practice. The Philosophy Circles Handbook, a pocketbook-sized Teacher's Guide to the method, takes you through the principles of Philosophy Circles, with examples, detail and flexible activities.

Thinkers' Games Minibooks

While the handbook contains all the essentials, Thinkers Games is a useful complement, containing over 30 physical thinking games that fit within the Get Moving principle.

Philosophy Circles Session Plans

At last count, there were 110 session plans, covering a huge range of topics. All the plans have a consistent format, even though there is great variety in their content and activities, so they are user-friendly for busy teachers. The entire set can be downloaded onto your school network, along with an easy to use index.

Each session plan uses Philosophy Circles principles to engage, challenge and give independence to children as they explore challenging questions. The variety of techniques used across the plans mean that as you use them, your repertoire of approaches to P4C will grow, so your development as a facilitator is built in. Click here to download a sample set of our Philosophy Circles session plans.

Extras with the Premium School Pack

The Premium Pack is recommended for whole-school P4C because you get 10 copies of each book. There are additional articles about advanced aspects of each principle, to help you go still deeper. You also get password-protected access to a large and growing range of video tutorials to reinforce key ideas and explore approaches in depth.

New plans are being written all the time, and with the Premium Pack you'll receive a year's worth of free upgrades, one per term, as new resources are created.

Finally, if you are one of the first ten schools to purchase the Premium Pack, you get to choose one of those new resources - a bespoke plan written for the topic of your choice which will be added to the next termly upgrade.

Philosophy Circles Premium School Pack

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£249 (+VAT)

Philosophy Circles Standard School Pack

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£199 (+VAT)

The Premium School Pack includes…

  • 100+ P4C lesson plans for every subject in the curriculum
  • 10 copies of the Philosophy Circles Handbook
  • 10 Copies of Jason Buckley’s Thinkers’ Games
  • Additional articles on each principle for advanced facilitation
  • Free termly upgrades for one year
  • All 39 Spot and Stripe videos for EYFS children

The Standard School Pack includes…

  • 100+ P4C lesson plans for every subject in the curriculum
  • 5 copies of the Philosophy Circles Handbook
  • 5 Copies of Jason Buckley’s Thinkers’ Game

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. We'll get back to you as quickly as we can.

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