P r o c e d i a - S o c i a l a n d B e h a v i o r a l S c i e n c e s 1 1 6 ( 2 0 1 4 ) 2 1 4 1 – 2 1 4 5
1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Open access under
CC BY-NC-ND license.
Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Education and Research Center.
World Conference on Educational Sciences - WCES 2013
The study on challenges of teaching philosophy for children
Mohsen Farmahini Farahani (Ph.D) *
Associate professor,Shahed University ,Tehran, Iran
In recent decades, philosophy and children has been proposed under various titles including Philosophy for Children (P4C),
Philosophy with Children (PWC), Philosophy and Children (PAC) in the field of education and philosophy. Given the
importance of education for children in contemporary philosophy, this study examines challenges and solutions with respect to
the philosophy and teaching philosophy for children. According to the above objective, 30 challenges were identified as the most
important of these challenges can be included: the concept of philosophy as a discipline, lack of trained and skilled instructors to
teach philosophy to children, breakdown between existing social values and norms ,the ambiguous role of the teacher in this kind
of education, to use precipitately philosophy for children's education, family's unawareness of education philosophy for children,
lack of children's cognitive development to understand abstract concepts of education philosophy programs for children.
Key words: Philosophy for children, challenges of teaching, challenges;
At first, the term of "Philosophy for Children" seeks to bring out philosophy from abstract situation and to bring it
the community. Secondly, it wants to provide a new approach to education system in order to solve fundamental
problems and weaknesses of the education system which appears incurable long ago. In attempting to utilization of
philosophy and practical teaching of critical thinking, the newest and the most important steps is likely Philosophy
for Children which are aimed at strengthening and enhancing the reasoning, judgment and distinguishing skills. The
aim of philosophy for Children differ from other applied Philosophy. It will help students to think and solve their
problems individually (Lipman, 2003).
Children, who engage philosophy, can see the world and themselves in a new perspective they can get ideas which
May otherwise impossible come to their mind (Fisher, 1995). So, philosophy is not slowly to learn the history of
philosophical ideas, everyone must tie abstract concepts in tangible experiences. (
Leeuw, 1993) Jespersen believes
that philosophical texts should be narrative for children and adolescents, and you and your students enjoy it and
finally say this is really a good story let’s hear it again (Jespersen, 1993). Jackson and Deutsch (1978), showed in
their study, which carried out on 1000 primary school students of Hawaii, the higher scores of New Jersey
reasoning skills test belonged to w
participated in the philosophy class than control group and students who didn’t
participant in this class.
Daniel (1998) investigated the “Philosophy for Children” program and its effects on student’s critical thinking. The
results showed that students who participated in of 9 and 15 weeks course (2 hours a week) got better performance
in critical thinking than control group.
Malmhester (1999) designed a program (used to Philosophy for Children
!133)4210(-0+ &65,138 $1,4)0 #&3/&,-0- #&3&,&0- %).98 EDC:D>?:@B?:>=A=
":/&-. &((3)448 *&3/&,-0-*&3<7&,119'1/
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
© 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Education and Research Center.
2142 Mohsen Farmahini Farahani / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 116 ( 2014 ) 2141 – 2145
Program)in a long-term study which lasted for 6 years in 4 elementary schools of Stockholm, Sweden, and
During his study, experimental group participated in philosophy classes and control group studied normally. The
study results indicated that experimental group performance differed significantly from control group performance
and they were better in various tests such as academic achievement of mate, reasoning test of New Jersey and
Trickey and Topping (2004), in the article as “Philosophy for Children” reviewed systematically to surveys from
1970 to 2002 and indicated the positive effects of the program in reading, critical thinking, reasoning skills, self-
and cognitive abilities and math. What certain is that the new design” philosophy and child'” provides a
suitable background to offer various ideas and opinion and analyzes most of educational issues and problems of
children. Alongside this new project which can solve many educational issues and problems of children, it mustn’t
be ignored the challenges and possible inconvenience. Any projects initially faced with some obstacles and
problems that the project philosophy for children is not exceptional case of these rule. The challenges of teaching
philosophy to children and offering solution regarding "teaching philosophy to children," 29 challenges are define
that 8 challenges of them are presented because of their im
portance with more explanation. In
other cases, challenge
ith solution is offered.
1 – In the history of psychological theories, such as Piaget and other
developmental psychologists, childhood is not
the abstract thought period, and basically sciences such as philosophy, are not considered suitable to this period.
Therefore, to state practically the Philosophy for Children program has been faced with this challenge, but in P4C
, it is tried that instead of addressing a specific content and philosophical theories, to be addressed the
specific methods philosophical thinking.
2-In the program of teaching philosophy to children, the role of teacher is very determinative and indirect. The
teacher should able to guide philosophical arguments and discussion. Therefore, the teacher him/her is a challenge
this program. In traditional education, a teacher is a person who knows the correct answer and he/she should correct
mistakes. In other words, the teacher is pivotal. First in P4C system, it is emphasized to conversation. Second,
answers to the questions, are not the certain and predetermined answer that just the teachers know; rather it is
emphasized to the discussion. To overcome this challenge, teacher must learn how to lead philosophical discussions.
They must learn how to use practices, how to address the issues and topics, and how to persuade students, to think
for and about them, and think about the purpose of philosophy for children and what the operational process, its
methods and styles as well as instrument are.
These questions are important and challenging issues in the past three decades. Awareness of the nature of
philosophy for children precedes to seek its methods and patterns. For example, some believes that "Philosophy for
Children" is closer to the logic than philosophy; however, some researchers argue that the logic is the main
framework to, philosophy for children. Besides, there are differences in its methods among connoisseurs.
Instance, Lipman argues that we must enlist the logic in philosophy of the children, while others, believe to
develop philosophy program through the literature and psychology of children. It seems that every country must
select options on the basis of its culture and characteristics in this field.
3-To hurry in applying the teaching philosophy for children: preparation and social acceptance is very important in
implementing of this plan. This project as other educational projects requires pondering, study and researching
deeply in order that this project doesn’t lead to imbalance in sections and undermine it of society. Conversely, if the
project is cautiously and carefully implemented, the project will success and achieve to its purposes and results in
less damages otherwise, it may upper most fall due to lack of comprehensive understanding of its implementation. .
(Tajbakhsh, 1387). To counter this challenge, it is noted that one of the most important criteria of implementing
each project is social acceptance which can help its efficiency and effectiveness educating and informing through
the media/press and public education.
4-Another challenge –which is related to the above challenge and considerable in Iran’s education- is that
unfortunately most new educational programs including "Teaching Philosophy for Children" will delay
Mohsen Farmahini Farahani / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 116 ( 2014 ) 2141 – 2145
, than accelerate without any readiness in suitable context including competent teacher training, supplying books and
good stories, so the project will lose its efficient. To conquer this obstacle first, it must properly understand the
project theoretical basis, be completely discussed and be considered in academic level and studied it. In the next
level, be offered some academic courses in universities in this field and then be established the discipline of
philosophy for children and some institution act in this field. After all these works, it turns to public level of
education, teachers and people. Finally, it turns to pilot implementation when academic and mental readiness is
5- Family awareness of the "teaching philosophy to children” project: education is necessary in order to familiarize
families with, "Philosophy and Child" project and to inform them. If informing will not be done correctly, and the
public interest will not be done by families, the project’s goals are not come off. You do not get the correct
information, and the public interest is not done by families, plan their goals rounds will. In this training child’s
attitude must be impulse toward critical thinking and questioning. By families and families accept that their children
grow mentally (Tajbakhsh, 1387)
6 - Breaking current social values and norms: Besides posing above issues by families this question arises that is it
true in which social values and norms are extirpated? No society likes to spurn its present authenticity and values,
and to void them, and to break its educational status in its aims, value and norms because cultural authenticity of a
society is tied up with valued funds of the society and to spurning the values and norms could shake cultural basis of
the society, and damage social-cultural structure of the society seriously (Tajbakhsh, 1387). Therefore this point is
posed that to overspend critical thinking and to question unreasonably of children bring them out of socializationing
and leading to norm breaking. So, we will encounter a patient and sick society which will press destructive effects to
the public. However, if p4c plan will be implemented correctly and constructed its educational foundation its
cultural enrichment, negative feedback is reduced.
7-Lack of trained and skilled instructors to teach philosophy to children: It is so important to teach children with
trained and skilled instructors. Therefore, at first, it is a priority to train skilled and competence instructors aimed at
achieving the projects goals of teaching philosophy to children. Instructors play a critical role as the first basis of
discussions in classes and as leaders of the project. If instructors will do clumsily in training, some moral and
behavioural problems such as frustration, humiliation, low self-esteem, worthlessness, loss of identification,
unsuitable pride and so on are too dangerous for this new project. While instructors will not been properly and they
have not passed in-service courses, the success is impossible.
8 - The Challenge of philosophy as discipline: It is too old debate whether philosophical discussion is suitable for
children. This debate is still continued because of mixing of two concepts: doing philosophy as a discipline” such
as “to study the great thinkers’ ideas since ancient Greek age, and “to philosophize” such as thought philosophically
about any question. Several critics of teaching philosophy to children argue that children couldn’t learn philosophy,
whereas supporters consider an opposite concept. Today, there is a clear distinction between “teaching for thinking
“and “teaching about thinking”. The first one, teaching for thinking, is emphasized for children. Teaching for
thinking means that thought process through questions and thinking could involve anything even thought. But
“teaching about thinking” would not ensure to improve one’s cognitive ability, indeed teaching about the oceans and
butterflies do not so, and these teaching would not
alter children to skilled thinkers (Lipm
Results Summarizing and research data:
Results Summarizing and research data offer in the form of challenges table, solutions will be presented too.
Table challenges and solutions for teaching philosophy to children
Issue challenges solutions
Inappropriate philosophical concepts to culture and society To applying philosophical concepts which are suitable to social
2144 Mohsen Farmahini Farahani / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 116 ( 2014 ) 2141 – 2145
conditions and to imitate of philosophical concepts of other
culture to train philosophy to children
Acceptance of a particular concept of philosophy, where the
children cannot learn philosophy. (Ghaedi, 1386)
To define as thinking and minding includes all people from
childhood to oldness.
3 To Consider philosophy as a discipline (Bagheri, 1379) to
hical information as
To consider philosophy as developing creative thinking
Weaknesses in thinking (Gharamaleki and Amy, 1384) the
lack of reasoning power in children
To emphasis on thinking in the class and to encourage discussion in
the class (Lipman, 2003)
Unnecessary and inconclusive debate and to failure to conduct
Teacher participation and conduct discussions on philosophical topics
Teachers rely on the knowledge of the authors (Bernie shot,
1383) – considering ,teaching philosophy in abstract template
To analyze, conceptualize and simplify concepts
Presentation of the text, to prevent children from thinking.
To provide adequate philosophical stories (Nagy, 1383)
to pay attention to the ideas of philosophers alone and do not
involve children in discussions about philosophy
To speech and discuss Lively between teacher and children, and the
Say philosophical concepts, regardless of the age of children.
Presenting shocking and difficult puzzles (Nagy, 1383)
To proportionate philosophical concepts to children at their age, and
its arguably discussion (Sharpe, 1992)
To consider philosophy as knowledge framework (Nagibzade,
1377) to emphasize on the adoption of certain beliefs or ideas
To consider philosophy as a way of life
To use a specific pattern for all children in a class There are thinking patterns in so much of children
Teachers speak alone in the class. The absence of leading
correctly in the class discussion (Fisher, 1385)
To activate children in class discussion (Fisher, 1385)
To limit the philosophy and principles of clear thinking in a
certain period of time.
To expand philosophy, since the beginning of education
Disregarding the true meaning of philosophy .To consider the
philosophy, the concept of study and analysis of philosopher’s
Philosophy means to think and how to think
Doing things without thinking and blindly .To provide a final
answer for children (
To encourage children to question and to engage their minds with
Lack of understanding of adults, in relation to appropriate
concepts by understanding children
To proportionate philosophical concepts of, with the children’s
understanding to analyze, to organize and to interpret it (Fisher, 1995)
Disregarding the children's idea (
, 1993) do not
listen to the words and phrases children
The children learn how to think at higher levels (critical and creative
Inappropriate texts for understanding of philosophical
concepts to children (
, 1993), instructors’ doubt to
use stories to make children think
Training of teachers and trainers to use concepts which are suitable
for children and leads them to think
Considering Piaget's stages of cognitive development that
children can not learn philosophy
Reconstruction of Philosophy for children in accordance with their
aptitude and interests
To limit Philosophy for Children, To the analysis of
To create philosophical questions, conceptualization skills, reasoning,
and searching for children
21 Lack of sufficient consistency in philosophy for children, for
example, some argue that "Philosophy for Children" is much
closer to the lo
Countries could choose in this regard accordance with their own
special culture and characteristics
To neglect the true ideas methodology to children,
adolescents, youth and adults
To teach children to think correctly
To snap to use teaching philosophy to children To educate and to inform through the media and the press, and public
education. To implement research/seminars and to produce and to
To understand philosophy difficultly -Placing reasoning -based experiences in education
- reconstructing philosophy for children according to their talents and
Teachers aren’t familiar with the program
To overcome this challenge, the teacher should have in- service
courses to learn how to conduct philosophical discussions, she/ he
must learns how to use from exercises and discussions to plan and
how to encourage children to think for themselves and about
Mohsen Farmahini Farahani / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 116 ( 2014 ) 2141 – 2145
26 The program has an artificial content
To determine the role of philosophizing in practical life for all the
To overspend in Critical thinking ,to question unreasonably of
children bring them out of socializationing and leading to
If p4c will be implemented correctly and properly and judiciously and
constructed its educational foundation with cultural enrichment,
negative feedback is reduced.
Shortage of qualified and skilled teachers to teach philosophy
While instructors will not been trained properly and they haven’t
passed in-service courses, the success is impossible.
Unawareness of families of p4c
To inform accurately to families
Bagheri and Bagheri (2008) have also identified three challenges in Philosophy for Children program in their study:
philosophical, psychological, and educational challenges. The philosophical challenge is due to the point that
philosophy is mainly dependent on the history of philosophy and thoughts of preceding philosophers. Psychological
challenge is rooted in the approaches of developmental psychology that to emphasize on phases in human thinking.
Accordingly, abstract methods of philosophizing cannot be used in the childhood period. Educational challenge is
related to basic cultural values that might be shaken in the process of philosophical interrogations. In general, the
philosophy and thinking in a society is not something independent of historical and social conditions that
community. It is often believed that philosophy, is a discipline in the row of other academic disciplines, and
education can help to improve it. But the philosophy and thinking, not an academic discipline, but also is the
original spirit, a historical tradition, a civilization, a culture. School, as a key component of the educational system
can make profound impact on thinking process and mental skills and learning styles of students. In many countries,
the philosophy is still as knowledge, not as a skill. That should be changed this outlook.
Bagheri, K. (2000). New Views in philosophy of education. Tehran. Hasti Publications
Tajbakhsh,F. (2008). Pathology of Philosophy and child plan. www.pac.org.ir
Gharamaleki, A. F. and Amy, Z. (2005). Comparison of Lipman and Bernifier Styles. Journal of modern religious thought. No. 2 Fall 84. Pp.
Sharp,Ann Margaret, Reed, Ronald F.( 1992). Studies in Philosophy For Children, U.S.A: Temple University Press, Philadelphia.
Fisher, R. (1995) Teaching Children to Learn, London: Blackwell/Simon & Schuster/Stanley Thornes. Also published in Arabic, Hebrew, Czech,
Polish, Hungarian, Estonian, Latvian and Persian.
Ghaedi, y. (2007). Examine the curriculum foundations “ philosophy for children” from the perspective of rationalist philosophers. Studies
curriculum. Pp. 50-21
Nagy, S. (2004). Interview with Professor Margaret Sharpe." Children's book of the month. "Eight years. No. 5. Pages :19-12
Naqibzade,m (1999). discussions in philosophy and philosophy of education. Tehran. Tahoori publication
Daniel,M.F.(1998)."P4c in pre-service teacher education". Journal of Analytic Teaching, 19(1),13-20.
Jackson,T.E and Deutsch,E.(1978)."Where we are now". Journal of Thinking, 6(2), 12-1
Jespersen, P. (1992)."On Philosophy ". Journal of Analytic Teaching.
Jespersen , P .(1993)."Philosophy for children in Denmark". Journal of analytic Teaching
Leeuw, Karel van der. (1993). “ Experiences with Kio & Gus”, Thinking, Vol, 11. No, 1
Lipman , M.(1988)." Critical thinking what can it be?". Journal of Educational leadership
Lipman,M (2003)."Thinking in Education", Cambridge, the university press of Cambridge
Malmhester, M. (1999)."The 6 Years Long Swedish Project". Best in the world in thinking, partly presented at the ICPIC congress.
Trickey,S and Topping,K,J.(2004).” Philosophy for children: a systematic review”. Research Papers in education,Vol.19,No,Septmber2004
Bagheri,K and Bagheri,E(2008).Challenges in front of philosophy for Children’. Journal of Curriculum Studies, Vol. 2, No. 7, pp. 7-24, 2008