On the value of Philosophy for Children and Communities (P4C)

Saturday, February 26th, 2022
“P4C becomes the source of a stream of dialogic practice that flows through the curriculum…”

Credit for image; https://www.maxpixel.net/photo-1746229

I have been practicing Philosophy for Children and Communities (P4C) since 2009, and have been training teachers and others to practice it since 2012. It was P4C that sparked my interest in dialogue and dialogic teaching and learning, and these interests in turn have led me into ventures such as becoming a Lead Facilitator with Generation Global, writing a book about Dialogic Education with Professor Rupert Wegerif and becoming an affiliate of Professor Neil Mercer’s group, Oracy Cambridge.

But none of these experiences have led me away from P4C – in fact they have strengthened my belief in its value. Here I will share just some of the reasons underpinning this belief.

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The hopefulness of teaching for dialogue

Monday, October 25th, 2021
Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

I often argue the case for dialogue as a medium through which young people can learn about curriculum subjects more deeply (see my series ‘A Teacher’s Guide to Dialogic Pedagogy‘, for example). In this post I want to make an argument for dialogue as an endpoint of education. I’ll argue that it offers us a better way to be, that it enables a person to gain a richer understanding of him or herself, of other people, and of the world, and that it offers hope for the future. Let’s start with some everyday experiences.

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Teaching for Metacognition with Thinking Moves A-Z

Sunday, November 29th, 2020

Following the closure of schools in March 2020, Diane Swift, Director of Keele and North Staffordshire Teacher Education (KNSTE, where I am a tutor), took the decision to engage our Associate Teachers (ATs) with Thinking Moves A-Z, an approach to teaching for metacognition. It proved to be a very positive experience for all, as I will attempt to explain below.

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A Teacher’s Guide to Dialogic Pedagogy Part 4: Teaching for Dialogue

Monday, June 8th, 2020
‘(Dialogic pedagogy) is not something that you can do to your students, but something you have to create with them. It is born out of relationship.’

Posts 2 and 3 of this series focus on the role of the teacher in dialogic pedagogy. In Post 2 Mortimer and Scott’s categorisation of the different communicative approaches available to the teacher are offered as a basis for reflection on the different types of classroom talk and their purposes. In Post 3 the role of the teacher in facilitating dialogic / interactive talk (or Thinking Together) is explored.  In this post we turn our attention to the role of the students in creating an environment in which Thinking Together becomes possible and can flourish, allowing them to make meaning of what they have been taught.

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A Teacher’s Guide to Dialogic Pedagogy Part 3: The How – Facilitation

Friday, May 8th, 2020
‘It’s funny. You don’t have to think too hard when you talk to a teacher.’ Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye

In the previous post I suggested that Eduardo Mortimer and Philip Scott’s categorisation of classroom talk offers a useful tool for teachers as they reflect on the different ‘communicative approaches’ they use. I also suggested that it would be useful for many teachers to increase the proportion of dialogic / interactive talk (or Thinking Together) in their classrooms, and perhaps to reduce the proportion of authoritative / interactive talk (characterised by IRE sequences) used. In this post I will retain the focus on teacher talk and offer some suggestions as to how the transition from authoritative to dialogic interaction could be made.

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A Teacher’s Guide to Dialogic Pedagogy Part 2: The How – Getting Started

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020


In the previous post I described dialogic pedagogy as involving teachers and students talking and thinking in a way that seeks out and values different perspectives, and uses them to develop understanding. The broad term ‘dialogic pedagogy’ encompasses diverse approaches to its enactment in the classroom. Notable approaches include Professor Robin Alexander’s Dialogic Teaching; Thinking Together as developed by Professor Rupert Wegerif, Professor Neil Mercer and Dr Lyn Dawes; Professor Lauren Resnick’s Accountable Talk; Roger Sutcliffe’s Philosophical Teaching and Philosophy for Children (P4C) as developed by Professor Matthew Lipman. Follow the links or see the bibliography to find out more about them.

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A Teacher’s Guide to Dialogic Pedagogy Part 1: The What and the Why

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

In this short series of posts, I want to explore what dialogic pedagogy is, why it might be valuable and how a classroom teacher or school might get started with it. It’s written in part to help me to clarify my own thinking (or at least to keep me thinking!) during the lockdown, though I do hope others will find it interesting and useful too. Any feedback would be most welcome.

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Care in the Community (of Enquiry)

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

All real living is meeting

Martin Buber, I and Thou

During the days before Christmas, while shopping in a busy arcade in Chester, I stopped to listen to a male voice choir as they sang carols. It was one of a few occasions this year when I felt infused with the ‘Christmas Spirit’; I was, for a short time, a part of a community of people sharing a difficult-to-define feeling of togetherness and good will. It was one of those occasions when, fleetingly, the boundary that divides ‘me’ from ‘the world’ seems to dissolve. A similar relationship with others can be experienced when a person is drawn into dialogue and I want to argue that one way in which this is made possible is through ‘care’, which I will relate to the notion of ‘caring thinking’ as advocated in philosophical communities of enquiry. 

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Making Progress with Dialogue

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

progress blog header

“Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above. They come out of struggles from below.” Noam Chomsky


I think the notion of progress is essential to all forms of dialogic teaching (including Philosophy for Children /P4C), and is easily forgotten. Too often progress towards good dialogue ‘plateaus’ at a relatively superficial level, where conversation is polite and ideas and questions (some of them profound) are shared, but there is no active attempt to seek to deeply understand other points of view, to synthesise them, to challenge and test them or to explore alternatives.  In this post I want to discuss one approach to planning for progress with dialogue (or perhaps I should use the term ‘dialogic enquiry’ to refer to practice that uses talk that is recognisably dialogic but is focused on a question or problem), and to share a resource that I hope teachers will find useful (You can download it for free here). Continue Reading »

The 10th Festival of Education

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019



It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak at the 10th Festival of Education at Wellington College. My talk was entitled ‘Teaching through and for Dialogue’. You can download the slides with some brief notes here, and a more detailed set of notes here. Please do let me have any feedback. Continue Reading »