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 his new organisation, he remembered one boy exclaiming “Yay, it’s the Philosophy Man!”
Whilst Jason was fast becoming an internationally-renowned speaker and as 'The Philosophy Man', Tom Bigglestone was heading up his own projects as a full-time teacher. He became fascinated with the role of philosophy in the classroom, and alongside his duties as a Head of Department, he attended every course possible, crafted and delivered several philosophy curricula, and completed a Walter Hines Page Scholarship on assessing philosophical skills. He then joined Jason and they're now working with more schools than ever before.
From small beginnings in 2008, The Philosophy Man is now the UK's leading independent provider of P4C training and workshops. Jason and Tom send free p4c resources to over 17,000 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 ‘show 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 Thinkers’ Games minibooks. More about our Philosophy Circles training can be found under Training.
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, Oz and NZ.
Why do we do it?
If children don't learn to talk confidently to groups in their primary years, it's unlikely they ever will. It impacts their learning and their economic and social potential.
And with the ever-increasing pressure from above, genuine opportunities for face-to-face dialogue and independent thinking can be squeezed out. Our mission to is empower teachers to find the opportunities for independent thinking in their existing curriculum, (and remind themselves of why they went into teaching!).
Handouts from training courses often sit in the "INSET graveyard'. It's full of ideas that sounded great on the day but which never quite got passed on to colleagues. So we want to deliver training minibooks that with busy teachers in mind, and following the course our huge range of resources means there's every support for you and colleagues continue using P4C regularly.
How do we do it?
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.” So we created Philosophy Circles.
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.
Whether or not you've had training, there's no better way to embed P4C than our Primary Curriculum Pack, containing mini-books for staff, 160 session plans, 100 Spot and Stripe videos, and our Discussion Dashboard to aid facilitation.
How we work with schools
A full day of training, with lots of participation to show how the process works. Very lively and good fun. Prepares everyone with the skills and resources to make an immediate start with their own classes.
Several days of philosophy workshops and twilight INSET, usually over a period of half a term. Teachers see a range of approaches in action and progress measured over the stay.