Philosophy for Children: an example of philosophical-educational practice


  • Raffaella Esposito



Philosophy for children (P4C) is an educational project for children and teenagers (from kindergarten to the early years of high school) conceived by M. Lipman in the 1970s and today widely spread and tested in different parts of the world. It recovers the way of doing philosophy typical of the first Greek schools and the Socratic methodology, re-proposing the frequentation of philosophy in its dimension of activity and communal dialogical exercise; in this sense, philosophy is translated into practice, mainly in the philosophy-doing together in a class. The main goal is to teach children to think well and independently, through cognitive and self-correcting investigation. The P4C program is therefore characterized by the use it makes of philosophy as a tool and method of education to complex thinking (critical, creative and value-based), and by the way in which it implements its project (the philosophy-making), focusing on idea of ​​community research / knowledge (CoR). Complex thinking and the critical method (which highlight the process of thought) constitute the heart of philosophizing in the CoR, and the learning that is achieved thanks to them moves in the three areas of cognition, metacognition and motivation. This is why philosophizing in the CoR presents itself as an excellent transversal training system compared to traditional curricular subjects: in fact, it offers children, on the one hand, the opportunity to acquire the method of philosophy that acts on the development of second cognitive and metacognitive skills. level; on the other hand, considering the content aspect, philosophizing is situated on a “meta” level compared to other disciplines and helps to organize their knowledge. The specificity of P4C as a philosophical practice that aims at the activation of “thinking and understanding together” is expressed starting from the particular setting in which the philosophical sessions (meetings and not lessons) are held for which the “facilitator” is responsible. The philosophical activity is organized in philosophical sessions, structured in 4 main phases that start from a so-called stimulus text that guarantees the problematizing function of philosophical research. In this way, P4C realizes that particular and fruitful association between philosophy and childhood which is based on the assumption that philosophy alone has the ability to act on being as a whole, allowing it to follow certain paths that “other knowledge alone cannot run across”. This is precisely the specificity of the philosophy of childhood: to value and systematize the philosophical “questioning” already present in childhood, thus accompanying the child on his hermeneutic path on the paths of life, allowing him to discover himself and the world as places of revelation and the advent of truth, with the ever greater awareness of the value that this discovery has on his daily actions and his choices.