the richness of questions in philosophy for children




community of inquiry, questions, opacity, transparency


This paper argues that the various approaches within P4C (Philosophy for Children) should purposefully integrate the exploration of questioning instead of only presenting children with prepared questions as starting points for inquiry. This is particularly relevant since P4C is one of the few educational settings that offers a space for children to question and explore the variation of their questions’ impact. The purposeful integration of questions does justice to the inheritance of the philosophical tradition, and reinforces questions as a privileged way for human beings to relate to the world. More than simply a methodological step in designing a P4C session, questions are an educational resource and are a central part of thinking and inquiry in a philosophical session. The paper proposes a new way to leverage these tools, arguing that defining philosophy as an obsession to overcome opacity and aim for transparency (Caeiro, 2015) can help participants identify questions that may empower dialogue in a philosophical way.

Author Biographies

magda costa-carvalho, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas/NICA: Universidade dos Açores; Instituto de Filosofia da Universidade do Porto (Portugal)

Magda Costa Carvalho works at the University of the Azores, Portugal, and is a research member of NICA: Interdisciplinary Center for Childhood and Adolescence, University of the Azores, Portugal. She holds a Ph.D. on Henri Bergson’s Concept of Nature. Her research focuses are on the ethical dimension of P4C, as well as on environmental philosophy. She holds Levels 1 and 2 of SAPERE’s P4C training.  She coordinates a Master Course in Philosophy for Children (University of the Azores) and offers Philosophy for Children sessions in a public school.

dina mendonça, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, IFILNOVA (Portugal)

Philosophy Major by the Catholic University of Lisbon in 1993, took a Master’s degre in Philosophy for Children in 1996 under the supervision of Matthew Lipman and Ann Margaret Sharp. The Masters taught her that children are much better thinkers than they are credited to be and had the privilege of learning the philosophical insights of Matthew Lipman. Doctoral Degree by the University of South Carolina with a dissertation on “The Anatomy of Experience –An analyses of John Dewey’s Concept of Experience” concluded in 2003. It was a great experience to work under the supervision of Tom Burke. Dewey's philosophical work proved to be an excellent guide for the philosophical understanding of experience, and provided a solid ground for post-doctoral research by disentangling, revising and organizing the philosophical education. Currently a member of the research team of Instituto de Filosofia at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, working on a Situationist Approach to Emotions, which is a novel and groundbreaking account that takes emotions as dynamic and active situational occurences (Mendonça 2012). In addition, promotes and creates original material for application of philosophy to all schooling stages, and aid in creative processes.


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How to Cite

costa-carvalho, magda, & mendonça, dina. (2019). the richness of questions in philosophy for children. Childhood & Philosophy, 15, 01–21.



dossier: philosophical inquiry with children: new voices