Excerpt of a long interview with Matthew Lipman (ML), Part 1: The IAPC program, published on Norwegian Centre for philosophy with children and youth, Interview by Saeen Naji, last modified: 29.09.06.
Question: Which is the best and most influential approach to philosophy for children?
ML: To me, the program that I have developed and that goes by the name of Philosophy for Children is identifiable as the best approach to the improvement of children’s thinking. Here are some reasons:
1. Interest: Children work best at whatever it is that most keenly interests them. This is P4C, first because it involves imaginative fiction, second because it is about children like themselves, and thirdly because it involves them in discussion of controversial issues (e. g. ethics). P4C goes beyond Critical Thinking.
2. Emotion: P4C is not limited to the improvement of critical thinking. It recognizes that thinking can be intensely exciting and emotional, and it provides ways in which children can talk about and analyze those emotions.
3. Critical Thinking: P4C wholly embraces critical thinking, but it does so with greater breadth and depth. Critical thinking is generally only an “add-on” to the existing curriculum, but P4C recognizes the need children have to deal truthfully with what they find problematic or puzzling.
4. Values: Children discover early on that our treatment of value issues tends to be ambiguous, vague and muddled. Consequently they welcome efforts to get them to think precisely and clearly. But this doesn’t mean that their thinking should be dispassionate or lacking in feeling. Children can think better about issues that concern them, when their thinking, in addition to being critical, is caring, appreciative and compassionate.
5. Creativity: Good thinking can be charged with imagination, as when we enter whole-heartedly into a story, or develop a hypothesis. P4C is therefore especially successful in the area of creativity.
6. Communality: Philosophy is dialogical: it stresses the need to open the dialogue to all members of the community. In other words, it stresses shared inquiry. The world can think better about how to treat innocent victims when it feels compassion for them than when it does not.
Link: Part 2 of this interview: Brave Old Subject, Brave New World.