P4C Questions That Puzzle

This week, an activity based on a conversation overheard amongst baristas in a cafe in Tynemouth. 

If a genie could grant you only one of the following abiltiies, which would you choose?

  • The ability to talk to animals
  • The ability to teleport from one place to another
  • The ability to forget things you want to forget

Listening to their conversation, whilst tucking into a very good artisan donut, reminded me of the power of evenly appealing (or unappealing) choices in P4C. After all, the harder the question = the deeper the thinking. This comes from the advice we give when helping teachers to create challenging questions for their curriculum:

Make questions contestable – two reasonable people can disagree

Give questions challenge– one answer isn’t obviously stronger than the other

Keep questions connected – to their experiences / interests / imagination

Pushover questions that lack challenge or contest will lead to boredom. Something unconnected to their lives, or imaginations, will be met with apathy.

Inspired by my eavesdropping, here’s some of other freshly-baked puzzlers, including one based on the History curriculum, and one from a text, that’ll hopefully divide brains:

Would you rather…

…be an insect that eats dung all day, but can withstand the crush of human feet?

…be an insect who does what it likes, but gets crushed if stepped on?

(Inspired by a conversation with a six year-old about dung beetles…)

…have one hand stuck in a jar for the rest of your life?

…everything taste of fish?

…be in charge of your country?

…be a superhero?

…be super-rich?

Which of these is most important in a friend?

…a shared sense of humour?



Which of these would benefit humankind most?

…a pill that made people feel happier?

…a pill that made people tell the truth?

…a pill that made people reject junk food?

What was Florence Nightingale’s most important change?

…cleaner medical environments?

…training more nurses?

…better hospital food?

Which of these words captures Macbeth’s character the best?




(You could find plot points and evidence to support all three, and the philosophy lies in defining these moralised concepts)

What other questions with evenly balanced answers can you and your children make? 

If you’re interested in getting us in to help improve teacher-questioning – either through training, or our popular Curriculum Clinics, get in touch today. 

Best wishes,

Tom and Jason

P.S. In next week’s bulletin, details of a “last chance to buy” offer on our Primary Curriculum Pack before we start an exciting new chapter at The Philosophy Man.

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