philosophy and children: for or with?

vania alarcon castillo


In this paper, two different philosophical proposals to introduce and carry out philosophy in school spaces which include the participation of children are compared, these are: Philosophy for Children (P4C), mainly developed by Matthew Lipman and Ann Sharp, and Philosophy with Children (PwC), which is actually a set of “second generation” (counter)proposals –as described by Vansieleghem and Kennedy (2011), based on Reed and Johnson (1999)–, among which those created by Walter Kohan and Karin Murris, to mention a few, stand out. The text begins with some similarities between both proposals, before comparing them in each of their dimensions. First, P4C is discussed. Second, PwC. Their ideas about education, school, philosophical education, their concept of childhood, the role given to teachers and their relation with politics are the main focus. Third, PwC’s critique of the P4C programme is studied. Finally, the paper concludes with some ideas on the issue of introducing philosophy to the school space. Particularly, PwC’s proposal is supported, fundamentally because of its coherent acknowledgment of the autonomy of teachers and of the political element in education, since philosophical experience with children is particularly questioning, defying, and, therefore, it has the possibility of bringing about important transformations, both at a personal-individual level, as well as a collective one.


philosophy; education; childhood; p4c; pwc.


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