– For schools
If your school is located in Melbourne, we would be delighted to deliver our acclaimed PD program for your teachers; our inclusive student workshop programs for for all year levels; or our enrichment workshops for select entry high schoolers. Schools in Melbourne and elsewhere are invited to contact us about our Philosopher in Residence program.
Take a look at our current list of workshop themes and key questions for students at all year levels. We develop workshops on other themes upon request.
If you’re interested in free resources for using philosophical enquiry to deepen understanding of environmental themes, please visit our environmental philosophy resource-sharing webpage developed to support the global practitioner group ‘Community Philosophy and the Climate Crisis’. Please contact us if you wish to join this group.
For an accessible overview of our practice, please read this article by our Director, Michelle Sowey:
Sowey, M. (2021), Unveiling and Packaging, A Model of Presenting Philosophy in Schools, Human Affairs, 31(4), 2021, pp. 398-408.
Examples of our stimuli
We are known for our original visual-text discussion-starters, concept games, small-group activities, and bespoke audio-visual stimuli which we use to ignite discussion of diverse topics.
Below are some examples of our original stimuli using fictional scenarios to provoke collaborative enquiry.
Please note: The following resources are all shared under a Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives.
- a campaign brochure for equal rights for children (inspired by an article by Vita Wallace, with illustration by Eric Comstock used with permission) – which may be used in conjunction with these accompanying questions;
- a poster advertisement for MONOCLE (a recording-contact-lens technology inspired by the Black Mirror episode ‘The Entire History of You’); and a poster advertisement for RESTART (a chatbot technology inspired by the Black Mirror episode ‘Be Right Back’); and an accompanying plan for an inquiry session based on MONOCLE and RESTART;
- a trifold brochure promoting Virtumax (an embryo-based moral enhancement technology, inspired by an article by Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu) and an accompanying discussion plan;
- a set of six scenarios about dark tourism (that is, travelling to places historically associated with death and tragedy). These scenarios are designed to be used as part of a spectrum activity in which students are invited to consider whether – and on what grounds – the behaviour of the named character should be considered blameworthy, praiseworthy, or somewhere in between.
We also make thoughtful and creative adaptations of existing resources for use in new educational contexts, as in the following workshops:
- The reliability of science, contrasted with pseudoscience (high school workshops)
You can download the workshop plans for this two-hour enquiry into philosophy and science. We begin with an introduction to various illusions in our perceptual illusions slideshow, launching discussion with the question ‘Can you trust your senses? Why/why not?’ and moving on to the question ‘If we can’t (always) trust our senses, how can we trust scientific observation and experiment?’ We then introduce a small-group activity using this set of illustrated scenarios dealing variously with scientific and pseudo-scientific investigations (curated and adapted from various sources) in which students develop an understanding of the importance of hypothesis-testing as a mark of good science. Through collaborative dialogue, students uncover prior knowledge of other distinguishing features of science. (Facilitators may wish to refer to our table of characteristic differences between science and pseudoscience, which corresponds with these printable cards that may be displayed during the discussion as students raise relevant issues.)
- Human nature, human rights, legal personhood and the basis of rights (high school workshops)
You can download the workshop plans for ‘So Entitled’, our two-hour enquiry into rights and legal personhood. The first workshop includes a card sorting activity (as described in the workshop plan) using these printable cards and headers to identify what it is about being human that entitles us to rights. The second workshop includes a series of video clips which invite discussion of such as questions as ‘Should rights be granted on the basis of capacities or needs?’ and ‘Should rights always be accompanied by responsibilities?’ Accompanying video clips are: Chimpanzee mirror self-recognition (edited excerpts) (apologies for watermark), ‘The Corporation’ (edited excerpts), ‘The River is Me’ (edited excerpts), and ‘Animals – Property or Persons?‘ (by Voiceless Australia).
- The ethics of organ donation and Rights of the Child (high school workshop)
You can download the session plan for ‘Whose Body?’, our one-hour inquiry into organ donation, children’s rights, bodily autonomy and body ownership. Please contact us if you would like to receive a link to the short video & audio stimuli that are mentioned in this session plan. You can also download the printable cards and headers needed for the card-sorting activity (guillotine required). An 80-minute version of this session plan is also available on request.
- Eternal Life (high school workshop)
You can download the session plan for ‘Eternal Life’, an 80-minute inquiry into immortality and anti-ageing technologies. Please contact us if you would like to receive a link to the abridged videos that are mentioned in the session plan.
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Our Big Questions website describes the benefits of philosophical enquiry and introduces our original philosophical short films for upper primary school students. Teachers in Australia or abroad are invited to contact us to purchase a non-watermarked version of the films for classroom use.
If you’re interested in learning more about a nationwide approach to Philosophy being taught in schools, please visit the website of The Federation of Asia-Pacific Philosophy in Schools Associations (FAPSA) or browse its open-access journal, Journal of Philosophy in Schools.
– For everyone
Our main blog, The Philosophy Club, is about fostering children’s philosophical and critical thinking – and related issues of interest to parents, teachers and others who care about quality education.
Our second blog, Playground Philosopher, explores the potential of picture books to excite children’s philosophical curiosity. It’s designed to help parents and teachers to stimulate spirited discussions about open-ended questions and to inspire other playful activities with a philosophical bent.
Our facebook page is regularly updated with articles related to philosophical enquiry in schools, and thoughts from philosophers and educators around the world. We also invite you to subscribe to our occasional newsletter.
You might also like to read our opinion piece, Teaching Philosophy to Children, published in The Guardian.
– Online and print materials
The Most Reasonable Answer (by Alina Reznitskaya and Ian Wilkinson) is an innovative and comprehensive guide to engaging students collaborative enquiry and dialogue, while enhancing argumentation skills and developing deep understanding. The authors provide detailed annotated transcripts to illustrate effective facilitation of group discussions. They also introduce a helpful Argumentation Rating Tool to support teachers and students in building on and challenging each other’s ideas, clarifying meaning, relying on well-examined reasons and evidence, and making logical connections.
The Philosophy Shop (edited by Peter Worley of The Philosophy Foundation) is a highly-recommended book of ideas, activities and questions to get people – young and old – thinking philosophically.
– Short videos about philosophy for children
In this inspiring TED talk,’Philosophy for Kids: Sparking a Love of Learning’, University of Washington’s Professor Sara Goering talks about why doing Philosophy with children is so important and so exciting:
The following short video from The Philosophy Foundation (UK) explains that Philosophy is the only subject that specialises in reasoning – and reasoning is even more basic than reading, writing and arithmetic.
In the TED-Ed video ‘Questions No-One (Yet) Knows the Answers To’, Chris Anderson poses a bunch of quirky questions that seem to have no answers. These are just the sorts of questions that we discuss at The Philosophy Club:
Let no one postpone practising philosophy when young… for it is never too early to devote oneself to the well-being of the soul. Someone who says that the time to philosophise has not yet come… is like someone who says that the time for happiness has not yet come.”