Philosophy for Children (P4wC) was created by Matthew Lipman and Ann Margaret Sharp as a pedagogy to foster thinking in young people. They established the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC) at Montclair State University in the 1970s. Since then, P4wC centres have developed all over the world. In order to create synergy amongst P4wC practitioners, ICPIC was established in 1985 to oversee biennial conferences and expand the reach of P4wC internationally.
ICPIC envisions a future where children's ideas about the world are taken seriously thanks to educational initiatives that nurture their thinking and community-building skills.
ICPIC is dedicated to supporting people and projects around the globe with the shared aim of engaging young people in philosophical inquiry both in formal and informal learning contexts.
ICPIC’s constitution states our objectives as follows:
To promote, coordinate and disseminate research and to organize international congresses as well as specialized symposia.
To promote relationships between philosophers, educators and others concerned with the fostering of children’s cognitive development through philosophy.
To establish relationships among such philosophers and educators committed to introducing philosophy into elementary and secondary schools throughout the world.
To encourage rapprochement among scholars with regard to problems of pedagogical method.
To coordinate efforts of those seeking to introduce philosophy into all elementary and secondary school curricula.
To promote the setting up of regional centers of philosophy to assist in the designing and dissemination of courses in philosophical inquiry with children.
To encourage philosophers to devote themselves to continued improvement of the quality of education for all children.
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The ICPIC executive, elected by the members and serving a minimum of two years, meet monthly to support the many objectives of ICPIC members.
Dr. Arie Kizel is the head of the educational system program in the Department of Learning, Instruction and Teacher Education in the University of Haifa's Faculty of Education Israel. His research areas are: philosophy of education, philosophy with and for children, research of curriculum and textbooks, and study of social groups’ narratives. He was the head of the Israeli-German commission for textbooks research (2010-2015).
Dr. Susan Gardner is a philosophy professor at Capilano University and the founding director of the Vancouver Institute of Philosophy for Children (VIP4C). She is the director of Think Fun Philosophy Camps, which aim to fire up kids through the power of thought. She has also worked with Enable Consulting to produce the Tinker Thinkers app based on her university-level critical thinking book Thinking Your Way to Freedom: A Guide to Owning Your Own Practical Reasoning.
Dr. Maughn Rollins Gregory is professor of educational foundations at Montclair State University, where he succeeded Matthew Lipman as the director of the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children in 2001. He holds a JD as well as a PhD in philosophy. He is co-editor of the Routledge International Handbook of Philosophy for Children (Routledge, 2016) and has edited a number of special journal issues on Philosophy for Children.
Arthur Wolf is a doctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia writing on the pedagogical implications of Gilles Deleuze’s work on thinking and learning. He has taught courses at UBC, is associate director of the VIP4C and is educational director at Think Fun Philosophy Camps, including a project in Ghana. Arthur has also worked with UNESCO on philosophy and education, co-organised two ICPIC conferences and taught P4wC in South Korea.
Rose-Anne Reynolds holds an MEd in Applied Language and Literacy Studies from the University of Cape Town, where she is currently a doctoral student. Her research interests include philosophy for and with children as well as philosophy of childhood. She is a part-time lecturer at her university's School of Education, using philosophical inquiries and principles of P4wC in her teaching. She is an active member of the Southern African P4C network and co- facilitates Level 1 workshops for teachers.
Jennifer Glaser is co-founder and co-director of the Israeli Center for Philosophy in Education – Philosophy for Life (ICPE), and founder and director of Engaging Texts. She has published widely on P4wC, runs professional development workshops, and developed a wide range of P4C curricula. She holds a PhD in philosophy and a teaching degree. Her research interests include personal identity and group membership, pluralism and cosmopolitanism, hermeneutics, and the theory of practice in P4wC.
Natalie M. Fletcher is a philosophical practitioner and postdoctoral researcher from Montreal, Canada. She teaches P4C courses at Université Laval, is co-director of philosophy at SEVE Canada and is founding director of Brila Youth Projects, an educational youth charity that combines philosophical dialogue and creative projects into the philocreation approach to P4wC. Her research has been published in various books and journals, and she runs P4wC trainings internationally.
Rafael Robles is a secondary school teacher at IES Nuestra Señora de la Victoria in Málaga, Spain. He holds a Masters in Philosophy and is currently a doctoral candidate researching philosophy of education and technology. He publishes in different areas related to education and is the co-author of textbooks in the Philosophy and Values series. You can find more information about his work on his website at rafaelrobles.com.
Now half a century old, P4wC has become a significant educational and philosophical movement that is practiced, interpreted, researched and recreated in more than 60 countries around the world. From kindergartens to universities, children’s shelters to governmental ministries, P4wC has become increasingly popular as an approach to child-driven education in both formal and informal contexts, as well as a dialogic pedagogy used with adults. Beyond ICPIC, P4wC is grounded many national and regional centers that train, support and bring practitioners, philosophers and teacher educators together to share and theorize practice.
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history & growth
Philosophy for Children offers a distinctive perspective in a number of key areas of inquiry and provides a counter-narrative to psychological and sociological perspectives that often dominate educational discourse. Its radical move, in bringing child and philosophy together, has made a unique contribution to the blurring of disciplinary boundaries and opened up new avenues for scholarly inquiry as well as educational practice.
The advent of P4wC in the United States in the late 1960s was part of a broader intensity of interest in philosophy for young people. Founder Matthew Lipman began work on his first philosophical novel for children in 1968 and the initial classroom experiment that followed convinced him “that philosophy can and should be part of the entire length of a child’s education...because it is abundantly clear that children hunger for meaning, and get turned off by education when it ceases to be meaningful to them.”
In 1973, Lipman met his lifelong collaborator Ann Margaret Sharp with whom he co-founded the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC) at Montclair a year later. Lipman and Sharp saw doing philosophy as an ideal of the educational experience, even capable of transforming education more broadly.
Toward that end, they produced a curriculum designed to accomplish a complex set of objectives: connecting children with the philosophical dimensions of their experience, exposing students and teachers to diverse positions from the philosophical tradition, modeling children engaged in philosophical dialogue with each other and with adults, and illustrating philosophical inquiry making a difference in children’s lives.
At Montclair, Lipman and Sharp’s professional development programs evolved into undergraduate and graduate courses, and masters and doctoral degree programs, and today numerous universities around the world offer similar P4wC courses and programs. Lipman and Sharp’s work almost immediately attracted the attention of philosophers and educators around the world, thousands of whom have gone to the IAPC to study, train and research. Many of them established their own local organizations to develop curricula, research, professional development and university courses.
The P4wC movement has grown into a diverse field both at the levels of theory and practice. Though varied in their materials, methods and aims, P4wC approaches are united in their efforts to engage young people in philosophical dialogue inspired by questions and concepts that matter to them.
I'm so happy I discovered this movement and the joys of facilitating philosophy with kids. I've met so many amazing people that continue to inspire my work!
—SANDEEP, P4wC FACILITATOR
I think it's really good practice for your mind to think about philosophical questions. It's even better in a group because you get to hear everyone else's ideas.
—ELLA, AGE 12
Of the various programs in which my daughter participates, not only is this the one that makes her think (and, evidently, feel!) the most, it's the one that most honours her individuality and imagination.
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METHOD AND ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES
P4wC theorists and practitioners take the controversial position that teachers with no formal philosophy education can be trained to use a dialogic method designed to engage their students in meaningful, rigorous philosophical inquiry. This method, originally developed by Lipman and Sharp, is called the "Community of Philosophical Inquiry" (CPI) and involves five stages:
Since the early 1970s, the CPI has inspired numerous and divergent approaches, including:
In addition, Gareth Matthews inaugurated the study of philosophy in children’s literature, which opened the way for children’s picturebooks to become an important curricular resource, notably in the work of Karin Murris, Joanna Haynes and Thomas Wartenberg.
Text from the above two sections was adapted with permission from The Routledge International Handbook of Philosophy for Children (2016) edited by Maughn Rollins Gregory, Joanna Haynes and Karin Murris.
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