Philosophy in the Classroom

This course introduces the children to the concept of philosophy, to philosophical questions, philosophical inquiries and discussions, philosophical learning objectives, Fermi questions, philosophy questions of the week as a way of promoting values, citizenship, speaking and listening skills, creative thinking and enabling the classroom to be perceived as a community of enquiry.

Course Description

Philosophy Day is a one-day professional development opportunity for schools designed to introduce staff, children and senior leaders to the wonders of engaging children in philosophical discussion. Marcelo Staricoff will model the approach in every class, alongside the teachers and support staff, to demonstrate how philosophy enables all children to develop a high level of self-esteem and a deep love of learning. Philosophy provides children with a unique opportunity to develop their creative thinking, their questioning and listening skills, their ability to structure their thoughts and to how discuss these with their peers in an empathetic and respectful environment. The intended outcome of the day is for staff and senior leaders to be equipped with the tools, strategies and resources that enable children to perceive that their school and their classrooms are ‘communities of inquiry’ and where philosophy and oral literacy forms an integral part of the teaching and learning process across all areas of the curriculum and of school life.

Pre-course Preparation

The articles entitled “Here Comes Philosophy Man” and “Philosophising the Primary Curriculum” will give staff the opportunity to see how the approach works in practice and how it can be adapted to suit different age groups. Children do not have to be seated in any particular way for the session and can either be in their seats or on the carpet. Please equip all children with a name badge.

Post-course Resources and Support

The course includes a series of other JONK articles so that you can launch philosophy with a bank of ideas, deepen your understanding of the approach and see how it can be introduced to other areas of school life over time. This one-day course also comes with additional e-learning support by contacting Marcelo by e-mail or telephone. A CPD certificate of attendance is provided too. 

On-line Community

All attendees are invited to join an interactive on-line community, moderated and supported by Marcelo. Examples of posts and queries might include:

  • A philosophical version of your Learning Objective so that your lessons launch with a whole class discussion to motivate all children to engage
  • A Thinking Skill related to the Learning Objective to launch the day and inspire the children to engage in pre-thinking before the lesson starts
  • A Creative Thinking Home Learning idea to compliment the Learning Objective and promote family engagement

Aims of the Philosophy Day

  • To introduce the children and the staff to the concept of philosophy
  • To engage the children in philosophical discussions
  • To enable the staff to reflect upon the day and to plan for the next steps at an end of day staff meeting

Benefits and Objectives of the Philosophy Day 

  • Understand the principles of the Philosophy for Children approach
  • Develop a clear picture of how to introduce the concept of philosophy to the children
  • Enable classrooms to become communities of enquiry
  • Build on existing practice to incorporate opportunities to engage children in philosophical discussions as part of everyday teaching and learning
  • Use philosophy-based learning objectives to enage and enthuse children with learning across all areas of the curriculum
  • Use all areas of the curriculum as the basis for philosophical discussions
  • Improve children’s listening, questioning, critical and creative thinking skills
  • Strengthen the parent-child-school triangular relationship through whole school philosophy based initiatives

Target Audience 

Early Years

Programme Elements for the Philosophy Day

The Introduction to Philosophy
  • What is Philosophy?
  • What is so special about doing philosophy in schools?
  • What are philosophical questions?
Establishing Philosophical Discussions in the Classrooms
  • You can never be wrong!
  • Establishing a listening and respectful culture so that all voices can be heard
  • Using philosophical discussions as a formative assessment model
Philosophy in our School- what does it mean to us as a whole school
  • Reflections of the day
  • Innovation, integration models of philosophy in everyday infrastructure of the school
  • Opportunities beyond the classroom and beyond the school day

Schedule for the Philosophy Day 

Morning   Afternoon  
Year R 9.15-9.45 Year 4 1.15-1.45
Year 1 9.45-10.15 Year 5 1.45-2.15
Year 2 10.45-11.15 Year 6 2.15-2.45
Year 3 11.15-11.45 Staff Meeting 3.30-4.30

Supporting Literature, Resources and References

Staricoff, M. and Rees, A. (2005) Start Thinking, Imaginative Minds, Birmingham, UK
Staricoff, M. (2006) Here Comes The Philosophy Man, Teaching Thinking and Creativity, 20, 10-14
Staricoff, M. (2007) Here Comes The Philosophy Man, Philosophising the Primary Curriculum, Gifted Education International, 22, 182-191
Staricoff, M. and Rees, A. (2003) Start The Day on a Thought: Teaching Thinking, 12, 40-44
Staricoff, M (2013) The Joy of Not Knowing, Creative Teaching and Learning, 4.2, 45-53
Staricoff, M (2014) Nurturing Creative Thinking from an Early Age, Creative Teaching and Learning, 4.3, 16-24

Success Stories

I had the most amazing day with the philosophy masterclass. We had great feedback from the teacher Mr S.

- Philosophy | Masterclass

D said it was the “best day ever”

- Philosophy | Masterclass

Marcelo Staricoff is amazing and inspiring

- Teacher | Brighton

JONKing at Coastal Federation was one of the best things we’ve done to inspire our children- go for it!

- Coastal Federation | Norfolk

Thank you for the JONK Course, excellent course and I can’t wait to start!

- Teacher | JONK Course

Great examples, brilliant presentation

- Headteacher | JONK Course