Philosophical Teaching and Learning

Philosophical Teaching and Learning

Philosophical Teaching and Learning is an inquiry-led pedagogy that develops student understanding and appreciation beyond the levels normally achievable though traditional teaching.  It brings together 6 strands of good teaching – whatever the curriculum or subject, and whatever the age of the students.  It provides a new and refreshing way for educators to  advance their skills in the 21st century.

How Does It Benefit Teachers?

By building skills in the 6 strands, teachers discover a powerful model for self-development and self-monitoring – and enjoy a more rewarding teaching experience.  The traditional demarcation lines between teachers and students diminish. Students take more responsibility for their own learning.  The teacher becomes a better listener, learning more about the students’ capacities to reason and understand, and about their personal interests and needs.

How Does It benefit Learners?

Philosophical Teaching and Learning equips students with the intellectual skills and strengths of character.  It has a healthy emphasis on questioning and reasoning.  Thinking Moves© provides a rich vocabulary for meta-cognition.

The emphasis on personal, social and intellectual virtues helps students throughout their learning and their lives.  Personal virtues include self-confidence, optimism, resilience and enterprise.  Social virtues include respectfulness, trustworthiness, open-mindedness and empathy.  Intellectual virtues include fair-mindedness and wise judgement.

How Does It Benefit Schools?

Philosophical Teaching and Learning complements most 21st century curriculum strategies, especially inquiry-based learning and dialogic teaching.  Through its Valuing Virtues approach, it provides strong practical support for school value systems or mission statements.  It helps schools to turn their stated values into concrete guidelines for behaviour and learning dispositions.

In International Baccalaureate schools in primary years, middle years or at diploma level, Philosophical Teaching and Learning is an ideal way to interrogate and develop the Learner Profile. It extends and deepens inquiry-based learning and supports student conceptualisation. It is equally valuable in preparing students from non-IB schools for entry into the IB Diploma program.

Because philosophy as a discipline is closely associated with high-order, critical, thinking, Philosophical Teaching and Learning enhances the academic standards of any school.  It broadens the scope of thinking through the caring, collaborative, creative and critical styles of thinking that are central to P4C.

How Do We Implement Philosophical Teaching and Learning?

Whilst Philosophical Teaching and Learning should permeate all aspects of teaching and learning, we recommend a structured pathway to build familiarity and skills with the approach.   For teachers, the starting point is two days of Foundation training, based on the well-established and strongly-evidenced P4C methodology. This training equips teachers to conduct philosophical inquiries with their students in a Community of Inquiry.  This is a safe space where students and teachers can start to explore philosophical concepts and develop their skills of Philosophical Teaching and Learning.

The Foundation training is followed up after 6 – 12 months by two days of advanced training in Philosophical Teaching, with different versions for primary and secondary teachers. This training helps teachers develop specific skills for taking Philosophical Teaching and Learning into all areas of the curriculum.  The third step in the Philosophical Teaching pathway is then a one-day course on Thinking Moves, showing teachers how to build student skills in this meta-cognitive framework.

Please contact for more information