Children's philosophical dialogue

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


There is a strong body of evidence in support of the educational value and potential social impact of philosophy with children (e.g. Cassidy, 2007; Daniel, 2008). This paper reports the initial findings of a study of children’s engagement in the practice of Community of Philosophical Inquiry (CoPI) (McCall, 1991, 2009) in Scottish primary school classrooms during a period of significant curriculum reform. The purpose of the study was to develop a means of evaluating the quality of philosophical dialogue fostered by CoPI in groups of ranging from 12 to 33 children. All sessions were conducted following the practice of CoPI developed by McCall (1991, 2009), recorded and fully transcribed for analysis. The paper will outline the development of the coding system through an iterative process of content analysis and will highlight the quality of dialogue generated by the children through the use of illustrative extracts. The evidence generated by the study will be discussed in relation to the aims and purposes of the new Scottish “Curriculum for Excellence”, which is heavily value-based and focused on four key outcomes, namely, that children should become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens. The paper asserts that Philosophy with Children can make an important contribution to such curricular aims, while also potentially offering wider social benefits by providing a powerful platform for children’s voice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009
EventInternational Council for Philosophical Inquiry with Children: Evaluation of and in P4C - University of Padua, Padua, Italy
Duration: 3 Jul 20095 Jul 2009


ConferenceInternational Council for Philosophical Inquiry with Children
Abbreviated titleICPIC


  • children
  • dialogue
  • philosophy
  • philosophical dialogue
  • community of philosophical inquiry (CoPI)
  • primary education
  • Scotland
  • curriculum for excellence


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