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Metaphilosophy is the philosophical study of philosophy itself. In the case of Philosophy for Children, it is the reflection on the philosophical dimension of the proposal of introducing philosophical inquiry in grades K-8 . For centuries, the Western philosophical tradition has largely rejected the possibility of philosophical reflection in pre-youth times. Those who argue the possibility of true philosophical inquiry with 4 to 5 years old children, need to prove that the dialogues in the classroom were philosophical in both content (children could talk about classical philosophical topics, like truth, beauty or goodness) and procedure (they can offer sound reasoning in their dialogues). The fundamental question are: can children do philosophy? Are dialogues with children in educational settings really philosophical? What concept of philosophy do we use when we talk about philosophy for children? Do teachers who facilitate or lead a philosophical discussion need a sound philosophical background?

Key works Key works. There are various seminal works that open the discussion. Of course, Lipman’s books Harry Stottlemeier's Discovery (N.J.: IAPC, 1974) and, together with Ann Sharp, Philosophical Inquiry. (Instructional Manual to Accompany Harry Stottlemeier's Discovery) (N.J.: IAPC, 1975) started the discussion. Very early a metaphilosophical discussion was triggered with the monographic issue of Metaphilosophy, v. 7, no. 1, Jan. 1976, edited by Terrell Ward Bynum, titled: What is philosophy for children?—An introduction. In a footnote, they explained: In the present volume, “Philosophy for Children” means philosophy for children in grades K‐8. Two other books, Philosophy in the Classroom, with Ann Margaret Sharp and Frederick S. Oscanyan (1st edition, N.J.: IAPC, 1977) and Growing Up With Philosophy, ed. with Ann Margaret Sharp (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978), offered a metaphilosophical reflection about the program. In 1980, Gareth Matthews published another very important book, Philosophy and the Young Child (Harvard, 1980). All those publications can be considered as the seminal works, and since then, many other articles and books have sustained a discussion with those who still are doubtful about, or just deny, the possibility of a philosophical reflection by children. And it is also a subject of ongoing reflection for all those committed to the dissemination of philosophy with/for children.


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  1. added 2019-03-18
    The Kids Are Alright: Philosophical Dialogue and the Utah Lyceum.Kristopher G. Phillips - 2019 - Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice 1:42-57.
    This paper serves as a call to philosophers both to create more precollege philosophy programs, and to push back against the instrumentalization of the value of philosophy. I do not intend to defend the intrinsic value of philosophy in this paper, though in an indirect way I will offer a defense of the value of precollege philosophy. I discuss the history, theory and practice behind the Utah Lyceum, a precollege philosophy summer camp program I helped create in rural Utah. I (...)
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  2. added 2018-09-07
    We Made Progress: Collective Epistemic Progress in Dialogue Without Consensus.Clinton Golding - 2013 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 47 (3):423-440.
    Class discussions about ethical, social, philosophical and other controversial issues frequently result in disagreement. This leaves a problem: has there been any progress? This article introduces and analyses the concept ‘collective epistemic progress’ in order to resolve this problem. The analysis results in four main ways of understanding, guiding and judging collective epistemic progress in the face of seemingly irreconcilable differences. Although it might seem plausible to analyse and judge collective epistemic progress by the increasing vigour of the dialogue community, (...)
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  3. added 2018-09-07
    "That's a Better Idea!" Philosophical Progress for Philosophy for Children.Clinton Golding - 2009 - Childhood and Philosophy 5 (10):223-269.
    Philosophy for Children is an important educational programme that engages children in philosophical inquiry as the means for them to make sense of the world. A key to its success is that students make progress in their attempts to make sense of the world or, more colloquially, they develop better ideas. Although philosophical progress is essential to the value of Philosophy for Children, there is little written on this concept and what is written tends to be merely suggestive. The result (...)
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  4. added 2018-09-05
    Proceedings Aktueel Filosoferen, 15e Nederlands-Vlaams Annual Philosophy Conference.van Dooren en Hoff (ed.) - 1993
  5. added 2018-08-30
    Children, Intuitive Knowledge and Philosophy.Maria daVenza Tillmanns - 2017 - Philosophy Now 119:20-23.
    This paper explores the notion that children have a knowledge of the world of their own – an intuitive knowledge. Being fully immersed in the world as adults are, they too have a knowledge of the world. In contrast to adults, who have developed a cognitive knowledge of the world, children still depend on their intuitive knowledge. Children certainly have a strong grasp of the world they live in; it’s just not dependent on cognitive knowledge. In my paper I compare (...)
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  6. added 2018-05-22
    Conceiving Childhood: "Child Animism".Gareth B. Matthews - 1982 - Noûs 16 (1):29-37.
  7. added 2018-05-21
    Gilles Deleuze: Enfants Et Devenir-Enfance.Walter Kohan - 2006 - Childhood and Philosophy 2 (3):11-27.
    This paper consists of some fragments from the writings of Gilles Deleuze that concern childhood. The goal here is not to illustrate a whole philosophical doctrine of childhood, but to present and make accessible to the readers some texts that may inspire them. Deleuze’s interest in childhood took many forms. He published a book for children with Jacqueline Duhême. Of course, this book was not written especially for children: it was composed of already-published texts from his earlier works. We also (...)
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  8. added 2018-03-05
    Philosophy, Academic Philosophy, and Philosophy for Children.Michael Lacewing - 2015 - The Philosophers' Magazine 69:90-97.
    A Platonic dialogue, an undergraduate lecture, an enquiry in philosophy for children (P4C): Are all three activities "philosophy"? Is there a difference between doing philosophy and studying philosophy? What is the importance of philosophy in each guise, and how might the different guises relate to the aims of "teaching" philosophy? Drawing on the work of Bernard Williams, I suggest that doing philosophy involves making sense of our lives, and that this requires a wider knowledge base than traditionally taught in academic (...)
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  9. added 2017-06-22
    The Routledge International Handbook of Philosophy for Children.Maughn Rollins Gregory, Joanna Haynes & Karin Murris (eds.) - 2017 - London, UK: Routledge.
    This rich and diverse collection offers a range of perspectives and practices of Philosophy for Children (P4C). P4C has become a significant educational and philosophical movement with growing impact on schools and educational policy. Its community of inquiry pedagogy has been taken up in community, adult, higher, further and informal educational settings around the world. The internationally sourced chapters offer research findings as well as insights into debates provoked by bringing children’s voices into moral and political arenas and to philosophy (...)
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