Watch p4c

THE FOLLOWING VIDEO CLIPS are edited, with permission, from a variety of sources to give a flavour of p4c with children and young people or a variety of age groups.

Granny and the Goldfish: James Nottingham with middle school pupils

This clip was originally broadcast by Channel 4 in the UK, in 1999. It features a class of Year 5 children (9–10 year olds) in Northumberland working with their teacher, James Nottingham, one of the directors of

The video shows clips from two inquiries; the first began with a fictitious dialogue about the value of life (the chosen question being: ‘Why risk your life to save a stranger?’) and the second with a picture drawn by Keith Haring (chosen question: ‘Is there a God?’)

Some nice aspects of p4c are revealed including students responding directly to each other (rather than via the teacher) and without the use of hands up; students questioning the meaning of concepts such as ‘stranger’; and one very nice instance of a girl questioning the wisdom of another student’s reasoning (‘But you’re saying that you would rather strangers died just because you don’t know them.’)

A demo lesson with 15 year olds in Australia

Here, James Nottingham is introducing some Year 10 students to p4c.

A philosophical dimension in history

Here, Doug Paterson, a history teacher in Northumberland, has asked his class of 14 year olds to come up with some philosophical questions about war prior to studying World War One.

This clip is from a training video called ‘Intelligent Learning’ that Steve Williams, a director of wrote for schools. It is produced by Imaginative Minds Ltd. PDF Attachment: Leaflet about the Intelligent Learning Training Course

After some discussion they decide on the question: ‘In war, who is innocent and who is guilty?’ This clip shows a section of that discussion. In previous lessons, Doug has intervened in classroom dialogue to encourage pupils to question each other in reasonable ways and to deepen discussion through clarifying ideas, thinking of alternatives, speculating about consequences and so on.

After an interesting discussion, pupils were still talking about their ideas while leaving the room. To some, such a discussion might seem superfluous to the pupils’ study of World War One. However, discussions like these can stimulate pupils’ interest in the topic and motivate them to find out more about the War. Their new knowledge will, in turn, enrich their developing ethical and political views about war in general and inform their opinions about a very current issue: whether one can speak of a ‘just war’.