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The Sum of Human Happiness?

By Jason Buckley | May 22, 2020

The Sum of Human Happiness? I’m going to give you a bowl of ice cream. Your favourite flavour, served just how you like it in the ideal portion size. As it’s an imaginary bowl of ice cream, add whatever toppings you like. It’s on the house. I’m also throwing in a warm summer’s day so…

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Seagulls, Worm Charming, Lies and Knowledge

By Thomas Bigglestone | March 13, 2020

A few days ago, I saw a seagull hopping from one foot to the other on some grass. It was (I thought) replicating the sound of rainfall, hoping for a fooled worm to breach the surface. Within seconds one did, and was promptly devoured whole. It’s a curious but common sight – captured here.   Questions The sight of seagulls tapping…

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Poetry, Emotions, Philosophy

By Jason Buckley | March 7, 2020

This week, a stimulus that invites creative writing and thinking about emotions, which you can use as a way of generating questions for philosophical enquiry. It uses a very simple form of poem which I’m calling a “Josephine”, my mum’s Sunday best name. Share some of these examples, have the class create their own, and…

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16 Sample Sticky Questions, 7 Days to Buy Your Class Set

By Jason Buckley | February 27, 2020

Today is the start of a 7-day period during which class-sized sets of Sticky Questions are available to buy. If you haven’t already read about them, you can see more here. In a nutshell, kids go home with a different question stuck on their jumper or in their planner each week, talk about it at home…

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Could We Be Wrong About Human Rights?

By Jason Buckley | February 21, 2020

Prompted by a question from a reader, this post is about human rights. Schools often cover this subject but it can be more of a celebration than enquiry, since human rights are generally considered A Very Good Thing. There are many philosophically interesting questions about human rights, but you generally need to find “some salt to…

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Late Debates

By Thomas Bigglestone | February 13, 2020

Why are you late? Why is your homework late? Why do parents evenings always run late?   This week, how to get students talking about something we teachers tend to talk about an awful lot. Late Debates Yesterday, a colleague and I were waiting for someone who was late to our meeting. With nothing else…

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P4C Enquiry Plan: What Sets Humans Apart?

By Jason Buckley | January 31, 2020

This is a follow-up from “A Dark Horse? Three Philosophical Enquiries About The Unusual” blog post, putting into the practice the technique of defining something by the kind of thing it is (genus) and what makes it different to other things of that kind.   Working at Wayland Junior Academy Watton in Norfolk yesterday [Ed…

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A Dark Horse? Three Philosophical Enquiries About the Unusual

By Jason Buckley | January 24, 2020

What is this? The answer, as you may have already seen, is a zebra with spots Your class will almost certainly work it out, and then you can show them the other photo in this article. There are three philosophical areas you can explore here: truth, definitions, and induction. Truth Which of these statements are true (and…

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Human 2.0?

By Jason Buckley | January 16, 2020

This enquiry is a classroom-friendly version of one I ran for a Philosophy Wranglers online seminar. It introduces students to the beautifully ugly naked mole rat, a burrowing rodent that lives in a colony, rather as bees or ants do. These are all “eusocial” animals that make sacrifices for the good of the colony as…

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Is Disability in the Body, or in Society?

By Jason Buckley | December 8, 2019

In this post, a thought experiment about disability. It invites children to imagine a world in which a few people can fly, but not them; then to imagine a world in which most people can fly, and they are in a small, non-flying minority. In the first world, they are not disabled. In the second,…

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The Game of Power

By Jason Buckley | November 21, 2019

This week, a powerful stimulus for discussing power. It’s taken from Augusto Boal’s “Games for Actors and Non-Actors”, one of the best books ever written for doing thoughtful work with groups. Warm-up: This is Not a Spoon This is an excellent activity to get people thinking about what an object can represent, ready for the…

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Alien Invasion

By Jason Buckley | November 21, 2019

This week, a special edition ready for World Philosophy Day on 21st November 2020. It explores the relationship between humans and non-human animals via an alien invasion scenario. Some of the aliens are farmers, who want to breed us to make us more flavoursome and succulent. Some are hunters who want to preserve our man-made…

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Christmas Present Disarmament Treaty

By Jason Buckley | November 18, 2019

Shopping for presents takes an average of ten hours and £300 in the UK, and the recipient of a gift typically values it at between 10% and 30% less than it cost to buy. Add to that the estimated 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper (the area of Brighton), the tower of wear-once Christmas jumpers and general…

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International Talk Like A Pirate Day

By Jason Buckley | September 19, 2019

September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. So here is a recording of me talking like a pirate which you can use for inspiration for a philosophy-in-role pirating session. Enjoy!

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Primary School Resource Compendium

By Jason Buckley | July 11, 2019

Primary School Compendium Rebecca-Jo Schwetz, a Masters student at Sacred Heart University, has compiled a huge pic’n’mix of resources from a variety of contributors, all suitable for use in primary schools. What I particularly like is that she has collected together lots of resources on metaphysics (the nature of reality), aesthetics and epistemology (the study…

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Free P4C Resources from the US

By Thomas Bigglestone | July 10, 2019

Primary School Compendium Rebecca-Jo Schwetz, a Masters student at Sacred Heart University, has compiled a huge pic’n’mix of resources from a variety of contributors, all suitable for use in primary schools. What I particularly like is that she has collected together lots of resources on metaphysics (the nature of reality), aesthetics and epistemology (the study…

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P4C Activity: Question Tennis

By Thomas Bigglestone | July 8, 2019

This week, a challenging activity to encourage learners to question each other. . Question Tennis . We’re not claiming to have invented this one. The playful game of answering a question with a question has been a staple of family car journeys for a long time. The basic premise is beautifully simple: . Each player…

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Reduce Homework Hassle and Get Kids and Parents Talking

By Thomas Bigglestone | June 27, 2019

Here’s a letter you could be sending to your class or school in September… r Primary Sticky Questions r You can buy a class set of 40 questions, with at least 32 stickers of each question, enough to last one class the whole year, for just £30+VAT. Typically they are printed 12 to a page, sometimes 8…

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Using “Scale Models” for Philosophy

By Thomas Bigglestone | May 22, 2019

This week, an idea for making big philosophical issues from history accessible to young children, inspired by the work of teachers at Beech Green School, Quedgeley, during a session where were planning philosophy into the curriculum. r The example is from World War Two, but the approach is flexible. The idea is to have two…

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Confessions of a Modern Ancient Egyptian

By Thomas Bigglestone | May 14, 2019

The Ancient Egyptians are a mainstay of primary school topics, with the gruesome rituals of mummification and the colourful cast of gods such as the jackal-headed Anubis, who famously weighs the heart of the deceased against a feather to see if it is free from sin. r r In a previous issue, Tom shared an enquiry…

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Should Justice Be Blind?

By Jason Buckley | May 5, 2019

I was running a cluster meeting for RE teachers, held at Hurlingham School in London, and we were looking within popular topics for “Y-Questions”, the contestable questions that are at the heart of P4C. One of the teachers, Amanda Freeman, talked about how she had used as a stimulus an image of “blind justice”, a common…

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What Makes Soup Soup? Free P4C Day for Heads, and Events for Young Philosophers

By Thomas Bigglestone | April 27, 2019

This issue has three parts. The first is a brilliant short video from BBC Scotland on the vexed question of “What makes soup soup?” – though comic, it’s a splendid way in to a variety of philosophical questions. r Then there’s an invitation to Headteachers, Deputy Heads and high-ups in groups of schools to attend a…

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Living Our Best Life: Resources for Stephen Lawrence Day

By Thomas Bigglestone | April 18, 2019

This week, I’d like to direct you to a set of resources on ethical dilemmas from The Philosophy Foundation, commissioned by the Stephen Lawrence Trust. There is a how-to guide and specific resources on ethical dilemmas for every phase of school from 4-18, and the topics range from “Living Our Best Life” to “Goals, Success and Failure” to…

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P4C from Oz: Short and Curly Podcast

By Thomas Bigglestone | April 11, 2019

This week, as most readers are on holiday, a link to a great podcast series for children about philosophy. It’s Short and Curly from the Australian Broadcasting Network, one of my favourite media outlets: r r r Their Harry Potter episode explores an interesting question in the context of Severus Snape – Do you have to…

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What Shape is Time?

By Thomas Bigglestone | March 28, 2019

What shape is time? This might seem like the sort of question that gives philosophy a bad name. But it goes quite deeply towards the heart of disagreements within and between cultures. r I suggest running this enquiry as a “Starting Positions” session, with the participants first in pairs, then fours, then eights as you…

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Can you be good or bad if there’s just you?

By Thomas Bigglestone | March 21, 2019

This week, a very simple starting point that can lead off in many directions. It’s this question: r If you lived completely alone on an island, would there still be a difference between being good and being bad? r Or, more abstractly: r Can you be good or bad if there’s just you? r You…

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The Pyramid of Hate

By Jason Buckley | March 16, 2019

“Hate-fuelled attack on values that unite us all” It shows zero self-awareness that Daily Express ran this headline the day after the white terrorist attack on a mosque in Christchurch,. This is a newspaper that, when its front page is not about Madeleine McCann or Lady Di, create headlines at random from “Muslim”, “immigrant”, “scrounger”,…

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Was That Music? – and Why Summer Term Is Best for P4C Training

By Thomas Bigglestone | March 14, 2019

This week, a musical (perhaps) stimulus, and then some reasons for your school to move away from the tradition of having professional development in the autumn term and do it in the summer term instead. r On a return visit to Beech Green Primary, Quedgeley, there happened to be a piano in the room. I…

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Philosophy Out of Thin Air

By Thomas Bigglestone | March 7, 2019

Doing more with less is one way to progress in P4C. This week, an example of an enquiry with Year 5, starting from absolutely nothing, which provides a structure you can use over and over again to explore important concepts. There are three stages: r Choose a concept Identify its ingredients Explore their relations r…

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The World Cup of Every Idea

By Jason Buckley | February 28, 2019

Hello from Tom this week, sharing a debating game that whittles any list of potential answers to one. The World Cup of Every Idea It’s a more serious version of Richard Osman’s “World Cup of Everything”, which I played with family on New Year’s Eve. In the original game, participants choose a category of 16 “things”…

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P4C Stimulus: Evacuees from Past to Present

By Thomas Bigglestone | February 14, 2019

If you’re coming here from the bulletin, the Powerpoint can be downloaded here. This week’s theme is “evacuees”, a common topic in connection with The Second World War or books such as, “Goodnight, Mr. Tom”. 2.5 million children were evacuated from major cities into the countryside to be safer from the expected bombing. As with…

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Who Should We Be to Each Other?

By Thomas Bigglestone | February 5, 2019

Here’s a brief Powerpoint to help with this session: The Five Relationships This week’s theme is relationships, focusing on some ideas from Chinese philosophy. Relationships are very important in Ruism (“Confucianism”). Very broadly, Western philosophy emphasises the separateness and independence of individuals, whereas in Ruism, relationships help make you who you are, and their proper…

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‘We Are Inventions’. Discuss.

By Thomas Bigglestone | January 30, 2019

This week, a provocative starting point for an inquiry on the theme of inventions. r As a warm-up, you might ask what these things have in common: r A clothes peg A wheel A computer A gun r The answer being that they are all inventions. r Follow that up by displaying this statement. r…

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P4C Stimuli: The What, The What Else, and The How…

By Thomas Bigglestone | January 23, 2019

This week, a video clip stimulus initially spotted by Eugenio Echeverria and posted by Pat Hannam in the P4C Exchange Facebook group (well worth joining). r It’s from an old US TV show, “The Munsters”, and features Herman giving his son, Eddie, some homespun advice (don’t mention the names if they occur in your register!). Normally, I’m…

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P4C Sequel Story: What Colour Are the Feathers on the Top of My Head?

By Thomas Bigglestone | January 17, 2019

This week, a “Sequel Story” initially created with 4-5 year olds at Manorfield Infants School, Long Stratton. Their curriculum is built around texts, and their book of the moment was, “How Big is a Million?” by Anna Milbourne. In the original story, Pipkin the penguin tries to find a million of something, and eventually sees a…

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Philosophy for Spies

By Thomas Bigglestone | January 9, 2019

Inspired by a visit to Castercliffe Primary Academy where they had a great cross-curricular topic – spies – here are three dilemmas from the world of espionage. Moral dilemmas can be an efficient and engaging route to discussion, and espionage is an interesting test-bed for arguments that “the end justifies the means”. It’s also very…

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P4C and The Good Place

By Thomas Bigglestone | January 3, 2019

With a nod to the tradition of New Year’s resolutions, this week, a philosophical experiment in “trying to be good.” It’s inspired by “The Good Place”, an imaginative comedy about the afterlife that features a myriad of philosophical problems. r A central premise of the show is that the positive and negative things you do…

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P4C Christmas Stimulus and Games

By Thomas Bigglestone | December 13, 2018

This issue is the Christmas special – if it’s too late for you, apologies, but lucky you for breaking up early. In contrast to previous years, this year’s stimulus is rather melancholy, exploring the changing nature of Christmas and childhood as seen by a Christmas Angel on top of a tree. It’s pasted below and downloadable…

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Deceitful Jelly and the Gift of Colours

By Thomas Bigglestone | December 6, 2018

Christmas is imminent, and one of the stimuli in this week’s issue is of reactions to an unusual gift – glasses that allow people with a form of colour-blindness to perceive some colours for the first time. The other stimulus is also on the theme of perception, involving tricking the senses with servings of jelly…

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The Obstacle Course of Providing for More Able Children

By Jason Buckley | November 30, 2018

This week, a stimulus on educational ethics that can be used either with children or for professional development. It’s a dialogue between Scout Leaders, trying to plan an obstacle course that will challenge children of different ages and abilities. It raises the question of what sort of equality we should be aiming at in education,…

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Snowball Warm-ups

By Jason Buckley | November 22, 2018

P4C needs both individual boldness to create ideas and group collaboration to explore them. This week, three “snowball warm-ups” to choose from, which develop both those aspects. Snowball Statues “5, 4, 3, 2, 1… pose!” – on “pose!”, each person poses his body into a unique statue, different to everyone else’s. Do this a few…

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Are We Nowist? A New Word for World Philosophy Day

By Thomas Bigglestone | November 13, 2018

Happy World Philosophy Day! Or instead of “happy” should that be “perplexing”, “wise”… perhaps there’s a warm-up question in there? This year WPD is Thursday 15th November. I’d like to mark it by inviting your classes to consider a brand-new philosophical word, “nowism”. I’m using it in analogy to racism or sexism, as “acting or thinking as…

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Remembrance Assembly Special: Is it Ever Right to Force Someone to Fight?

By Thomas Bigglestone | November 6, 2018

This week, a Powerpoint and accompanying script that can be used as a class session or assembly in the approach to the 100th anniversary of World War I. I’ve referred to it as “The Great War”, as I always find it rather poignant that those involved thought of it in such a definitive way. r It’s…

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Always, Sometimes, Never

By Thomas Bigglestone | October 22, 2018

This week, a simple activity to elevate thinking beyond specific examples to a more conceptual level. r Always, Sometimes, Never… r …is a versatile technique to define complex concepts. Often, when faced with such concepts, children’s first instinct is to give examples familiar and personal to them, such as defining ‘Importance’ by talking about what’s important…

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Using Ignorance in P4C: Facilitator-in-Role

By Thomas Bigglestone | September 22, 2018

This week, an theatrical idea from the chalk-face that promotes careful thinking and clear speaking.   Facilitation-in-Role You might have read about Philosophy-in-Role in previous bulletins – putting children into a dramatic narrative where they make decisions and judgments as characters within the story, rather than as pupils within a classroom. Earlier this summer, we…

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The Philosophical Human Bar Chart

By Thomas Bigglestone | September 8, 2018

In this back-to-school issue (in the UK at least), an idea from Wednesday’s INSET at Winterbourne Junior School for Girls – a new Thinkers’ Game that makes the thinking physical – and doubles up as maths revision! I’ll give the “match report” of this discussion, and then some suggestions for how you could use it…

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P4C Activity: Talking About Holidays

By Thomas Bigglestone | July 16, 2018

Starting Positions is our go-to way to getting everyone quickly engaged. It’s simple to set up: Get everyone standing in pairs, with two clear sides, and give a fun, low-stakes question for each side to argue. Then raise the stakes by going from pairs (1v1), to fours (2v2), to eights (4v4), keeping one side arguing…

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P4C Polo Poser: Deeper Thinking for the Summer Term

By Thomas Bigglestone | July 7, 2018

Is the hole in the polo part of the polo? r …is one of our favourite questions. Humorous and whimsical, it also provokes deeper thinking about identities, properties, and necessities. r For children, a question like this is a wonderful antidote to a year of phonics and feedback. It’s particularly good in the midst of…

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P4C Assembly Guide: Humans vs Computers

By Thomas Bigglestone | June 28, 2018

This week, a guide for a philosophical assembly, developed from recent visits to Finton House School, London and St. Francis’ School, Wiltshire. r Philosophy Assembly Guide: Humans vs. Computers  r Below is a plan that has a background for the teacher’s benefit, and a suggested script in italics, followed by some tips for facilitation. r…

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P4C Stimulus: Chance or Choice?

By Thomas Bigglestone | June 13, 2018

This week, another episode of “Teacher Soap”. Download it here, or read below. This time, the conversation behind the closed door of the staffroom is about elections for the school council. Is it better to vote for representatives, or, Ancient Athenian style, trust to chance? You could ask that question and explore the nature and purpose…

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5 Minutes to 5 Years: What to Aim for in P4C

By Thomas Bigglestone | June 12, 2018

This week, a resource to get you thinking about what to aim for in P4C, from short segments within a single enquiry to thinking strategically over five years about whole-school P4C. It’s not intended to be an authoritative or comprehensive resource, just a starting point for your thinking. This attachment – click to download – contains both black…

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P4C Stimulus: What Would You Uninvent?

By Thomas Bigglestone | June 5, 2018

You may have seen a recent viral story picked up by the BBC about a class of second grade students who were asked, “Which invention do you wish had never been created?” – several said the mobile phone, as it distracted their parents from playing with them. r r You could ask the same question of your…

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Philosophy and the Fronted Adverbial

By Thomas Bigglestone | May 24, 2018

This week, a dialogue between a teacher and her class, as they strive to ‘improve’ a passage of text. While it might draw a grimace of recognition from UK teachers wrangling fronted adverbials, it raises questions of what language is for, and whether the best language to use is purely a question of taste. It’s…

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P4C Royal Wedding Edition

By Thomas Bigglestone | May 17, 2018

This week, a message from Her Majesty the Queen. Last time we heard from HMQ, she was wondering whether Prince Charles would make a suitable monarch, or if some of her younger subjects might like to audition for the part. r In this royal wedding edition, she wonders if Prince Harry and Meghan Markle should forgo Saturday’sextravagant…

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This is Your Queen Speaking: Choosing A Successor

By Thomas Bigglestone | May 16, 2018

Download the message from Her Majesty here: r r You could do the suggested task, perhaps with enlarged postcards, or use the message as a stimulus for our Philosophy Circles enquiry plan – download here. r As it happens, and people are often surprised when I say so, I’m personally rather an ardent monarchist. If…

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P4C Stimulus: Who’s The Boss of You?

By Thomas Bigglestone | May 8, 2018

This week’s bulletin features a “Staff Soap Opera’” dialogue about jobs and responsibilities. It came about through a Philosophic Topic Workshop, for a Year 2 unit on ‘Jobs’ during a recent INSET.  r One of the concepts we thought we could focus on was Responsibility. That led to the question, “In a job, who is your…

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Using Stories in P4C: Losing The Plot

By Thomas Bigglestone | May 1, 2018

Stories are a powerful stimulus for P4C, especially for younger children. Their story-talk is often much more sophisticated and motivated than their other speech. You can develop the foundational skills of sharing of reasons, listening, agreeing and disagreeing by evaluating a character’s choices, or deciding what you would do in their place. But if children…

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P4C Stimulus: Is Money Real?

By Thomas Bigglestone | April 25, 2018

This week, a freshly-written P4C stimulus that explores what makes something real via the surprisingly problematic concept of money. And for those nervous about the Santa Reality Question arising, a Spot and Stripe video also on the theme of money. r For older children: Is money real?  r This stimulus – download it here –…

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P4C Resource: Guilt: A Riddle, A Story, and Questions

By Jason Buckley | April 18, 2018

Guilt is an interesting concept in ethics, in particular the difference between “feeling guilty” versus “being guilty”. The riddle, story and questions on this theme below are also attached, with a few extra teacher tips. r Riddle r Riddles are great warm-up activity for P4C. Solving them requires intellectual risk-taking and collaborative thinking. The answer to…

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P4C Facilitation: Parking the Facts

By Thomas Bigglestone | March 27, 2018

What would the world be like if men gave birth? If there was no religion, would people behave better, worse, or the same? If you could alter one thing about the human species, what would it be? r These far-fetched questions raise interesting issues around gender, moral motivation and human nature respectively. But in response…

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P4C for EYFS: How Impossible Arguments Lead to Real Thinking

By Jason Buckley | March 27, 2018

One approach to real issues is via unreal examples. Tackling real situations straight away can be intimidating for some younger participants. They may feel they know less about the issue than others, and have nothing to contribute. In an imaginary world, nobody is the expert. You can explore ideas in a safe place where everyone…

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P4C Resource for International Happiness Day

By Thomas Bigglestone | March 20, 2018

Tuesday 20th of March is International Happiness Day. You can get some interesting practical resources for children at r Happiness is an important concept in philosophy. Here are some suggestions for questions and an attached stimulus for exploring the idea. r Warm-up- “Hello As If” r 1.    Walk around a space at a normal pace, not…

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Phalanx Philosophy: Safety in Numbers

By Thomas Bigglestone | March 13, 2018

Imagine it’s your weekly staff meeting. The Head starts talking about a contentious new dyslexia initiative mooted on the TV that morning. She turns to you for an opinion.  Your colleagues swivel to you. You don’t really want to give your own thoughts before you hear both sides of the issue. You haven’t had a…

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P4C Games: Turn-Taking Tasks, Lifting Listening Levels

By Thomas Bigglestone | March 6, 2018

Turn-Taking Tasks, Lifting Listening Levels Teachers often ask, “How can I get them to respond to what others say, not just say their own points?” To respond, you first need to listen, and to understand exactly what the other person is saying. These two games structure turn-taking dialogue for listening and response, rather than just…

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The Fairest Queen of All: P4C & Talk for Writing

By Thomas Bigglestone | February 20, 2018

This week, a stimulus story, “The Fairest Queen of All” (download here), which uses a fairytale style to explore the ethics of hereditary, communist, free-market and futuristic societies. The queen tries to respond to the complaints she hears about the unfairness of her realm, but someone is always dissatisfied. r Pause Points The story is…

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P4C and Maths: Stimulus, Question and Match Report

By Thomas Bigglestone | February 13, 2018

This week, not only an age-old philosophical question for P4C and Maths, but a classroom match-report to give you ideas for facilitating it yourself. r The Stimulus “What could this be?” r …is the question I asked Year 6 at St. Andrew’s Primary School last week, where I’m the Philosopher in Residence. It’s actually the…

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P4C Revolution Poem: Gold and Chains

By Thomas Bigglestone | February 6, 2018

This week, a poem that can be used as a stimulus for questions about economics, human nature and the power of people to effect change. It’s by Alice Walker, author of “The Colour Purple” among many other works. Here’s the poem on her website r r or here’s a video: r r r…

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P4C and Parents: Talk at Home, at Home With Talk

By Thomas Bigglestone | January 25, 2018

This week, two new stimuli in the Zebra-striped format for paired reading that was popular last year. The text is broken up by alternating bands of colour, with one reader being “Yellow” and the other “White”. Grey-striped versions are included in the attachments too. Click here for the original materials and explanation. r In one – “Lazy”…

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Philosophical Activities: 3 Philosophical Twists for Everyday Teaching

By Thomas Bigglestone | January 18, 2018

This week, most us will: r Ask our class for the definition of a word Get them sorting things into categories, or… Instruct them to put things in an order   Some of us might do all three! One of their many strengths is their simplicity. Children will get what we’re asking of them. So…

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Six Weeks of P4C CPD & Six Video Stimuli

By Thomas Bigglestone | January 12, 2018

This week, a convenient way for readers worldwide to access some great video resources originally shown on the BBC, and an invitation to be one of six schools to benefit from our new Philosopher in Residence CPD programme. r What Makes Me Me? r The BBC commissioned a series of animations based on stories by…

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P4C Activity: Philosophy for Readers – Zebra Striped Texts

By Thomas Bigglestone | January 5, 2018

I hope you had a good holiday. To kick off the new year, here are some trial examples of a new project, “Philosophy for Readers”. The aim is to publish philosophy stories and dialogues as a series of class-set books, A4 or A5 format, using a stripy alternating presentation that is very readable and in particular…

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URNE1 and Let Toys Be Toys – Philosophy for Christmas

By Thomas Bigglestone | December 13, 2017

We hope you enjoyed ‘Rudolph’s Revenge’ last week. This week, in our sign-off edition for 2017, a philosophy through creative writing session, “URNE1”. Your writers continue a series of diary entries about a child who receives an artificially intelligent playmate and has to choose its settings; then use their speculations as a stimulus for enquiry. The…

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P4C Christmas Special: Rudolph’s Revenge

By Thomas Bigglestone | December 6, 2017

We are entering the season of the Christmas Special, when familiar TV shows take on a celebratory feel with bigger and brighter versions of their usual offerings. Could you run a “P4C Christmas Special”, perhaps with a whole-school stimulus acted out in an assembly and simultaneous enquiries running across many classes? The attached dialogue, “Rudolph’s…

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P4C Stimulus about Charity: Questions and Activities

By Thomas Bigglestone | November 29, 2017

In the run-up to Christmas, as much in reaction to the consumerism and gluttony as out of piety, there is an increased focus on charity. You might think that charity is one of those unproblematic good things. But in this attached dialogue –  Charity -(also pasted below) set in a school staffroom, explores some of the deeper…

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P4C & Film: Three Themes for Philosophy with Films

By Thomas Bigglestone | November 22, 2017

Films can be a powerful and immediate stimulus for philosophical enquiry. For teenagers, you could explore “How should I live?” using Groundhog Day, or “How do I know what is real?” using The Truman Show. At primary level, children’s visual literacy is often more advanced than their written literacy, so films aimed at children promote…

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World Philosophy Day 2017 Challenge: What’s Your Constitution?

By Thomas Bigglestone | November 15, 2017

It’s World Philosophy Day on Thursday, so here’s a stimulus that pupils of all ages can enjoy. r Inspired by my recent training in South Africa, the challenge is to create a personal “Constitution” – What are the rules that you would set for yourself, so that in the future, you do the right thing even if…

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“The Lost Thing” and Things About “Lost”

By Thomas Bigglestone | November 13, 2017

The concepts of belonging and being lost are common in children’s stories. If you’re a primary teacher, think about your classroom bookshelf – there is probably at least one book about something separated from where it belongs – Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers, for example. Or here’s a poem (with lost line breaks!) from…

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Jason delivering P4C training in South Africa

By Thomas Bigglestone | November 3, 2017

We were so privileged to host internationally acclaimed Jason Buckley, talking to us about Philosophy Circles ???????? @makethinkingfun — Holy Rosary School (@HolyRosaryJHB) October 27, 2017

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7 Ways to Use Objects and a Two-for-One Training Offer

By Thomas Bigglestone | October 13, 2017

Objects play a big role in our teaching. They’re familiar, available, and engaging – 3D beats 2D. They’re also a versatile tool in P4C. In this issue, how we can use objects for warm ups, hands-on stimuli, and in facilitation. Read the P.S. for a two-for-one training offer.  r Warm-up Games  r Pointing At Stuff – many…

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P4C Poem on Freedom for National Poetry Day

By Thomas Bigglestone | October 10, 2017

Thursday 28th September is, and the theme is “freedom”. Here’s my contribution, a question poem asking which freedoms are most important: physical, psychological or economic. Is it enough to be free from constraints or must you be actively free to make choices for yourself? Display copy attached. Freedom? No walls, no wire, No guards,…

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P4C Activity: The Eatometer

By Thomas Bigglestone | October 6, 2017

To follow last week’s “Freedom?” poem, here’s a P4C activity exploring the connected concept of “control” in relation to food – The Eatometer. If you used the poem, you may find they reference that discussion – a community of enquiry noticing its own “history”. The Stimulus Like all –ometers, pupils arrange cards in an order.…

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P4C Video Stimulus: One-ness, and The “Greyest Example”

By Thomas Bigglestone | September 23, 2017

This week, a video stimulus inviting thinking about how much we are connected to one another, and an exercise that invites careful thought about borderline cases. Are we “as one”? This video stimulus is a rather magnificent time-lapse of plants growing, set to a new-age, ecological soundtrack. The refrain of the song is around us…

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P4C Stimulus: Memories and Photographs

By Thomas Bigglestone | September 13, 2017

This week, a stimulus and some questions about memory, knowledge and truth, approached through the familiar notions of early childhood memories and photographs. Warm up questions in pairs What is your earliest happy memory? What is the earliest picture of you that you can remember being taken? Stimulus There’s an audio stimulus, which you can…

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P4C Concept Activity: Sort It Out!

By Thomas Bigglestone | September 11, 2017

Tidying doesn’t always come naturally to children, but sorting does. r Put a range of pictures or objects in front of them, and ask them to divide them into different groups, and they will generally get straight to work. It’s a simple and satisfying activity. They may spot categories that wouldn’t occur to us in…

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P4C Back to School Activity: Who Believes What?

By Thomas Bigglestone | August 29, 2017

Most readers will have another week of holiday left before going back to school. A mathematical/philosophical question – if the pre-term preparation you could do feels infinite, won’t infinity remain the same size if you have another prosecco in the sunshine instead? r When term does start, attached is a philosophical version of the perennial…

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P4C Concept-Cake: Traditional Tales Resource

By Thomas Bigglestone | July 19, 2017

This week, two examples of a Traditional Tales resource to explore the philosophical potential of this area o our curriculum. . We know who wrote Harry Potter, and when, and where. However, the origins of ‘Traditional Tales’ are less clear-cut. They’re told and re-told, and passed from generation to generation. They often spawn new interpretations along…

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P4C Deep Thinking Activity: 45 Questions to Push Pair Thinking Deeper

By Thomas Bigglestone | July 17, 2017

This week, a new pair activity, “Facilitator Facilitatee” which hands over to the children the job of pushing past opinions and initial reasons to make their partner think more deeply. There are two versions of the activity: a Powerpoint for use by groups sitting down, or a PDF of printable cards for use in a…

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What Laws Should Robots Obey?

By Thomas Bigglestone | June 30, 2017

  This morning saw a report published by the Royal Society and British Academy recommending an over-arching law of robotics: “Humans should flourish.” r r Using the opening paragraphs of the news article as a stimulus, invite pupils to question the findings: Should the main law for robots be: “Humans should flourish.”? r Of…

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P4C Game: Could a Robot Replace…

By Thomas Bigglestone | June 30, 2017

In a previous issue, we looked at the possibility of robot teachers. This week, as it’s topical, two classroom-ready ideas to provoke thinking about artificial intelligence more broadly. r Could a Robot Replace… r Earlier this week, teachers on our open course created a Thinkers’ Game to tie in with their current topic: Robots. Which…

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Philosophy Assemblies

By Thomas Bigglestone | June 15, 2017

This week’s theme is assemblies, although the stimuli mentioned could be used for a normal-sized group. Philosophy Assemblies are a great way to embed philosophy as a whole-school practice, but they are very different to normal assemblies. How can you set the right mood, choose the right stimulus and facilitate successfully with such a large…

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P4C Thought Experiment: The Us

By Thomas Bigglestone | June 6, 2017

This week, a stimulus that seeks to go beyond the rough-and-tumble partisanship of election debates to a more profound approach to thinking about a just society. The stimulus and enquiry plan is attached as a PDF here, and there’s an audio version of the stimulus here: r r It’s called “The Us”, and is an…

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Are flying cars a good idea?

By Thomas Bigglestone | May 17, 2017

A small company in Japan have just been given funds to research the ‘SkyDrive’ – a flying car for the future. Click here for this week’s Newsround article. The story makes a brilliant stimulus for thinking about our relationship with technology, and is answerable for thinkers aged 4 to 40. For younger pupils, you might…

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“Types” of Facilitation

By Thomas Bigglestone | May 11, 2017

The stimulus for this article was “Just My Type, A Book About Fonts” by Simon Garfield. He mentions a talk by Beatrice Warde, a grand dame of typography, called, “The Crystal Goblet, or Why Printing Should Be Invisible.” Her thesis was that typography existed to convey ideas, not to draw attention to itself. You can take…

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Post SATS Activities: P4C Thinking Treats

By Thomas Bigglestone | May 9, 2017

Soon, Year 6 pupils in England will emerge from the long tunnel of SATs, and have two more months to enjoy their primary schools without that pressure. This week, a few story-based “Community Builders” that encourage listening and collaboration. Because story-based talk is especially powerful for younger children, you will find these approaches as enjoyable…

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Is it time to scrap gender specific awards?

By Thomas Bigglestone | May 8, 2017

The first part of Emma Watson’s acceptance speech makes a good stimulus for this topic. It pushes one view, but the group can argue both sides of the question. What would happen if one gender or another kept winning the award? Given the (sad) fact that most of the juiciest roles are still for male…

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P4C Philosophy Circles Plans: Easter

By Thomas Bigglestone | May 5, 2017

This week, three pick-up-and-go Philosophy Circles plans and an Easter-themed Spot and Stripe video, so you can easily inject some philosophical thinking into your pupils’ first week back. p For Reception, Years 1 & 2: Would it be better to give real eggs at Easter? Spot and Stripe argue whether it would be better to give real eggs…

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P4C Resources: Robots

By Jason Buckley | March 31, 2017

This week, three summarised enquiry plans for a P4C on Robots, all using video stimuli from news or film. Are there some jobs robots could never do? Who is to blame if a robot car does not allow for human error? Could you ever love a robot? Could a robot love you? Philosophy with Robots Teachers…

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When Does the Old Become the New?

By Thomas Bigglestone | March 3, 2017

I can’t help feeling like a criminal. I’m currently using what crime writers call a ‘burner’ phone: cheap, low-tech handset that’s invariably thrown in a river to avoid being traced. Using it has also created a sense of nostalgia, and I’m clearly not the only one: affection for a bygone era led to this week’s reissuing…

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Can bad actions be justified by unfair circumstances?

By Thomas Bigglestone | February 22, 2017

An interesting video stimulus from the BBC this week: We’re often presented with examples of behaviour from the animal world that are chosen to compare favourably against humans. This contrasting example has several layers: the selfish behaviour may be out of necessity due to the monkey’s low status – how far can bad actions…

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P4C Stimulus: Pay to Protest?

By Thomas Bigglestone | January 26, 2017

Many around the world have exercised their right to protest in the past week. So in this bulletin, a P4C stimulus to explore the concept of protest itself. It can be used as a stand-alone session, or as part of Citizenship/PSHE. To provide a way in, the attached dialogue raises the idea of having to pay to…

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  1. Sue Warburton on October 20, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    My granddaughter is 8 and home schooled. My daughter does not have much spare money but would love to invest in teaching P4c. Which books do you recommend for us to use. Thank you .

    • Thomas Bigglestone on October 24, 2017 at 9:33 am

      Hi Sue, thank you for your message. To get started, and at low-cost, we’d recommend our two minibooks:

      Thinkers Games
      Philosophy Circles: Embed P4C in Your Curriculum

      Each can be found in our shop at £2.50 each, and we feel help teachers make an immediate start with P4c in their lessons. I’ve no doubt your daughter would find them highly useful on a daily basis.

      Do let us know if you’ve any further questions.

      Tom and Jason

  2. Jessica on April 4, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Hi, I got started loving P4C once I heard about it last year. I am very interested in books in your shop but as I am in China, is it possible to buy and send to Shanghai, China? Is it a very high expense?

    • Jason Buckley on March 23, 2020 at 12:18 pm

      So sorry I missed this. We rarely used to get comments on the site and I’ve only noticed it with the recent flurry. Yes, we do send to Shanghai and have sent an order to a colleague of yours back in 2018.

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