the story circle as a practice of democratic, critical inquiry




philosophy for children, community of philosophical inquiry, story circle, democracy.


The authors of this essay have been committed practitioners and teachers of Philosophy for Children in a variety of educational settings, from pre-schools through university doctoral programs and in adult community and religious education programs. The promotion of critical thinking has always been a primary goal of this movement. But communal practices of critical thinking need to include other kinds of democratic conversation that prompt us to see others as full-fledged persons and to be curious about how our being in community with them makes growth and self-correction possible. As we continue to experiment and innovate in new contexts we see ourselves continuing the inquiry around expanding the inclusivity of conversations about basic human concerns. In this essay we describe an inclusive strategy called the story circle, that was first developed as a method of popular education in Denmark and was then adapted as a tool of social change among poor and dis-empowered American citizens in Appalachia. Story circles were later utilized in a philosophical living-learning community and most recently coupled with Lipman and Sharp’s dialogue method of the community of philosophical inquiry (CPI). The authors of this paper have combined story circles with the community of philosophical inquiry in a variety of contexts. In each iteration, telling one’s own story and listening carefully to the stories of others can be equally revelatory actions.


Author Biographies

natalie m. fletcher, Université de Montréal

Affiliate Professor

maughn rollins gregory, Montclair State University

Professor, Department of Educational Foundations

ariel sykes, Kent Place School

Assistant Director of the Ethics Institute


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How to Cite

fletcher, natalie m., gregory, maughn rollins, shea, peter, & sykes, ariel. (2021). the story circle as a practice of democratic, critical inquiry. Childhood & Philosophy, 17, 01–42.




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