The benefits of philosophical enquiry



Philosophy for children

I went from an ordinary person to an extraordinary person through thinking and having discussions.”

I learnt to think more wisely.”

Children who regularly engage in collaborative philosophical enquiry over an extended period develop a sophisticated range of personal, social and intellectual skills that are foundational for their success as students, as active citizens, and as thoughtful individuals who hope to lead a meaningful life. The Philosophy Club’s stimulating enrichment activities also connect with the school curriculum.

Young Philosophers YM + TS1


Personal benefits

I learnt how to open my mind.”
Primary school student

Philosophy has changed me, in a way. I was so shy that I couldn’t even talk. After a few weeks I got so confident speaking what’s on my mind.”

Philosophy has made me think differently towards questions that that leave me confused and puzzled. It’s made me happier about knowing there isn’t always an answer.”

By engaging in philosophical discussions, children develop independent thinking, the confidence to speak their minds, as well as a sense of responsibility for their opinions and actions. Philosophy also raises children’s awareness of the ethical issues that touch their lives, and gives them tools to begin developing their own values and principles.


Social benefits

Philosophy has changed the way I socialise. I now think about the consequences and benefits before I say what I think.”

In philosophical enquiry, children are working together to consider questions from diverse points of view. This helps them develop greater respect for difference and deeper empathy for other people’s experiences. They also become more attentive to each other, more fair-minded in their interactions, and more skilled at cooperating and negotiating.

As educator Peter Ellerton says in support of critical thinking and collaborative enquiry in schools: ‘Understanding the motivations of those around us…is a virtue born not only of empathy but of the ability to imagine and engage with the minds of others in a purposeful and rational way. Writ large, this is also a function of good citizenship.’


Intellectual benefits

Doing Philosophy has changed the way I react to questions and think about them… now I go deeper into the question.”

I think more deeply and creatively now.”

During Philosophy, I think I might have become more imaginative because I thought of a lot of things when we were having discussions.”

Philosophy helps children develop the ability to make thoughtful and considered judgements. Through philosophical enquiry, children build skills in reasoning, critical reflection and creative thinking; the capacity to examine their own beliefs and to express them clearly to others; and a thirst for lifelong learning.


I would like to thank you for challenging me against my opinions.”

You have made me think deeper, so my arguments can be convincing.”

Philosophy really made me think… Philosophy has made me back up my opinion.”

Philosophy helped me argue my point of view.”

Philosophy develops reasoning skills, so children become better at building logical arguments and rationally defending their views. It also encourages kids to question the assumptions underlying different points of view, making it possible for them to challenge dogmatic beliefs. And philosophy cultivates deep and deliberative thinking – often neglected in traditional schooling, which tends to focus more on getting ‘the quick right answer’ – so children get a chance to explore the nuances of complex ideas.

Above all… children enjoy themselves!

Young children… display a natural sense of inquiry, a natural sense of curiosity, a keen desire to understand their world and their place in it… They actively search for reasons, they want to get somewhere with their thinking. Young children derive a great deal of satisfaction – even joy – from investigating what they find puzzling… The sheer satisfaction, the joy of finding out, of getting to the bottom of things… it is this experience which nourishes children’s curiosity, which keeps it alive.”
Sue Knight & Carol Collins, Philosophy for Children researchers

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