P4C About Ice Creams and Exciting News!

Great discussions happen when the question causes participants to feel torn between two or more competing answers. It’s particularly rewarding to see a child pause to contemplate which road in the fork to take, usually with a bewildered, scrunched expression. Conversely, a discussion dies a death when the question is too much of a pushover.

So this week, a resource which guarantees that pause and think moment – and asks children to work out their “Scoop Number”. Scroll down for the resource.

But first, news of an exciting new collaboration…

Free Webinar: How to Make Their First P4C Session a Success – 30th May, 6 p.m. (UK time)

We’d like to welcome you to the first of an ongoing series of webinars to mark a new collaboration with SAPERE that’ll see a wealth of resources and support added to P4C.com.

It’s 6 p.m – 7.15 p.m. (UK time) on Thursday, 30th May. The theme is “First Sessions” – what makes a great stimulus for a group’s very first philosophy session? It’ll be useful to both new P4Cers and to old hands, especially those who have newbie colleagues to support. And you don’t need to be doing P4C for the first time / with a new group to come along – there’ll be ideas for everyone.

These webinars will refer to resources on P4C.com (lots more like the one above) – useful to guide existing subscribers, and for the not-yet-subscribed, it will give a taste of what you’d get if you subscribed. They will have plenty of general P4C tips and advice for classroom practice too – so excellent CPD regardless!

They’ll be less webinar-y, and much more like an online workshop – with lots of participation, idea-creation and sharing. For more details and to book your spot(s), click the button below. You’ll need to complete a super-quick registration, but very little faff. 

We’re really excited to be working with SAPERE to expand the number of resources on P4C.com to support schools to embed philosophy into their curriculum. Over time, we’ll be adding resources for all ages, and all subjects (as well as many “standalone” sessions). Each monthly webinar will be accompanied by a new drop of resources, and so the site is fast becoming the world’s best place to find P4C resources. 

Watch Jason explain the benefits of subscribing below. Memberships begin at only £35 p/year for individuals, and £59 p/year for schools.

Our partnership with SAPERE will also us collaborate on new CPD courses. More info on these, and how to book onto them, will be released shortly. 

Stimulus: What’s Your Scoop Number?

Jason first wrote this stimulus in 2013, and we’ve made a few twists recently. It feels particularly timely if you’re in a country where summer is nearly here (does the UK count? – Ed). 

“I’m going to imagine that you like ice cream. It’s hard to imagine not liking ice cream, so that’s easy.

I want you to imagine that I’m about to give you a scoop of ice cream. It’s your favourite flavour. Mine is hazelnut. Yours can be any flavour you want.

But stop! Before you eat it, I’m going to give you a choice.

You can have your scoop of ice cream. Or instead, a number of people can have a scoop of ice cream each.

Either you get your scoop, and they get nothing. Or they get a scoop each, and you get nothing.

I didn’t say how big the number was, did I?

That’s because I’m curious to know how many scoops for others it would take for you to give up your own scoop. What is your Scoop Number?

Maybe your Scoop Number is 2. So if two other people could get ice creams, you’d be willing to give up your own.

Maybe your Scoop Number is infinity. So even if everyone who has ever lived, everyone alive now and everyone who is ever going to live could have an ice cream, you’d still want one for yourself instead.

I’m not sure if there is a right Scoop Number to have. Or maybe you can have whatever number you like, a bit like flavours.”


Start by getting pupils to write down their scoop numbers anonymously, and then work out the average. It’s a good opportunity to do some maths for real, as the mean, mode and median may be very different.

Does it make a difference if the people getting the ice cream instead are people you know, or strangers? Or if they’ll know it was your choice?

If they’re alive now or will be living in the future?
What about non-human animals? What would your Scoop Number be for dogs… or for bluebottles? 

Further activities

You could ask them to look at how the Scoop Numbers match up with their real world actions, or if they could adjust their real world actions to match their newly decided Scoop Number.

You can explore the ideas of different thinkers by considering what Scoop Number they advocate. “Love your neighbour as yourself”, or Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarian dictum that “each to count for one, none for more than one” seem to demand a Scoop Number of 1. At the other end of the scale, property-focused moral systems like Ayn Rand’s rational egoism or libertarianism don’t seem to require that you have a Scoop Number at all.

Best wishes,

Tom and Jason

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