The Philosophy for Children Program: its origin and lesson structure




Matthew Lipman, philosophy for children, thinking skills, critical thinking, lesson plan


The article is devoted to the world-famous program for the development of thinking skills "Philosophy for Children" by Matthew Lipman, which was formed in the early 1970s. The program is outstanding in that it develops three types of thinking – critical, creative and caring. The article gives a brief overview of the history of the program and its formation. In particular, the article notes that Matthew Lipman, as a professor at Columbia University, realized that students are not able to formulate their own judgments and ask questions. He saw the root of the problem in school education, which does not develop the skills of critical thinking. According to Lipman, logic is at the heart of the program which teaches these skills. He saw introducing the study of logic in the school curriculum as his task. To make it effective and interesting, Lipman wrote the philosophical novel Harry Stottlemeier’s Discovery, which was build around the exploration of Aristotle's logic. The success of an educational experiment with reading this novel at a school in Montclair (USA) in 1970 over a period of six months inspired Lipman to continue writing texts for children of all ages and to develop manuals for teachers. Lipman's educational project began to bring together fellow educators, the first of whom was Anne-Margaret Sharp. Together with her, in 1974 Lipman founded the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC). The article notes which scientists (philosophers, psychologists, linguists) influenced the formation of Lipman's theoretical views.

The second part of the article describes the step-by-step plan of the lessons and explains in detail the importance of each of its elements. Emphasis is placed on the role of the facilitator and the qualities he should possess. The context of positioning critical thinking in contemporary education in Ukraine is also analyzed.

Author Biography

Yuliia Kravchenko, Columbia University

PhD, Fulbright Fellow at College of Education; Head of the Laboratory for the Development of Critical Thinking at the National Center «Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine", 


VerLinden, J. (2005). Critical Thinking and Everyday Argument. Belmont, CA : Thomson Wadsworth.

Cam, P. (2011). Matthew Lipman (1923–2010). Diogenes 58(4), 116-118.

Cam, P. (2020). Philosophical Inquiry (Big Ideas for Young Thinkers). New York: Rowman & Littlefield.

Naji, S., & Hashim, R. (2017). History, Theory and Practice of Philosophy for Children International Perspectives. London and New York: Routledge.

Sharp, A. M. (1994). The Religious Dimension of Philosophy for Children. Part II. Critical and creative thinking 2(2), 1-18.


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How to Cite

Kravchenko, Y. (2022). The Philosophy for Children Program: its origin and lesson structure. Filosofiya Osvity. Philosophy of Education, 27(2), 46–55.






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