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Holy Cross Boys PS, Belfast



What is Philosophy?

  • Thinking about thinking. (Plato)
  • Philosophy is a socially dynamic process.
  • It is hard to define and is a philosophical question in itself.
  • Philosophy is a conversation that starts off externally and moves internally so you are conversing with yourself.
  • Philosophy is the balm for the wounds of life.
  • 4 R’s it is reflective, reasoned, responsive and re-evaluative. Four key areas and children can do all four.

                 What is a hole?

Is the hole a part of a donut?  What this question is thinking about is - what is a hole?

This is a reflective question – being reflective.

Children will reason it – missing bit? 
If I take a bit out of the side of the donut - that’s a missing bit. But is it still a hole? 

Come up with a theory and then someone comes up with a counter example.  These are classic Socratic moves – definition, a counter example then back to the definition and refine it.

"It's something but it's nothing!"     (Primary 2- 6 years old defining a hole)

Why teach our children philosophy ?

  • A good thing to do
  • Only subject dedicated entirely to thinking
  • Don’t need a body of knowledge to engage in a conceptual enquiry about what a hole is for instance?
  • Fourth R campaign (in conjunction with TPF) – reasoning fourth R. The other three Rs are Reading Writing and arithmetic. Could it be the first R?


  • Teachers found that children developed thinking skills, such as using agreement and disagreement backed by reasons in discussions
  • Using reasoning to inform and justify decision-making as well as developing skills in categorisation of ideas and development of themes
  • The philosophy classes have resulted in improvements in children’s speaking and listening skills, which were used to ‘scaffold’ discursive writing tasks. Both children’s questioning and their use of reasons to support their opinions were strongly evident during philosophy sessions.

Economic Argument – compete on resources and on man power.  We do perform well with innovation. Allied to this , it is also to deepen understanding, to improve thinking because we need to create innovators.

Narrowing the gap

Improving attendance

Stronger teacher pupil dialogue

Stretching high attainers

Academic Outcomes

  • Improved Literacy
  • Independence in learning
  • Deeper thinking skills

Social Skills Outcomes

  • Problem Solving together
  • Exploring feelings
  • Inclusivity

Behavioural Outcomes

  • Increased confidence and self esteem
  • Greater respect for others
  • More contributions from quieter pupils

Familiar with this language – need to familiarise teachers.

Taught basic critical thinking skills – arguments. Pupils will develop a critical attitude.

                                                     syllogisms - classic fallacies (mistaken beliefs)  

Children need to develop a disposition to good thinking habits not skills.Need to internalise and naturalise good thinking.

  (Philosophy to Wider Community) 


»Justify: Can you say why you think that?

»Elicit: Can you say more about that?

»Clarify: Can you say what you mean by X?

»Exemplify: Can you give an example of that?

»Test for implications or entailments: Can you say what that tells us about...? Or What do you think that means?

»Condition: Can you say what that would depend on?

»Explain: Can you say how you would show that..?

Common Responses

»Agreement (I agree..)

»Disagreement (I disagree..)

»Synthesis (I agree and disagree)

»Add to (I agree and ...)

»Qualify (I agree but/if...)

»Distinguish (I agree but for a different reason)

»Offer an alternative position (What about...)

»Counter example (But what if...)

Our Odyssey

»All staff, children and community trained by The Philosophy Foundation (TPF).

»Philosophy Policy

»Scheme of Work 1-7 Pete Worley's If Books Philosophical Discussions

»Permeated, infused and embedded into the Curriculum

»PRSD observations on Discussions & Writing through Philosophy

»Trusted Colleague Network Teaching Assistants

»World Philosophy Day

»Parent's Philosophy Class

»Principal Level 2 Trained. Completed online training in November 2016

»Young Plato observational documentary- empowering young minds through Philosophy and Pastoral Care.

»Principal book - Philosophically Minded in HCB.Think Think Respond (TTR)

Book launch coming during this academic term 2022-23. 

Leave You With A Thought

If a man ascended into heaven and gazed upon the whole workings of the universe and the beauty of the stars, the marvellous sight would give him no joy if he had to keep it to himself. And yet if only there had been someone to describe the spectacle to, it would have filled him with delight. Nature abhors solitude.

Marcus Tullius Cicero Philosopher/Orator 46 BC

19th Apr 2024
Congratulations to these pupils who collected the H.C.B Reader, Mathematician, Artist,...
12th Apr 2024
Congratulations to these pupils who collected the H.C.B Reader, Mathematician,...
22nd Mar 2024
Congratulations to these pupils who collected the H.C.B Reader, Mathematician, Artist,...
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Standing ovation for Young Plato at Aldeburgh in England.
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P.7M R.18 class assembly - New Beginnings/ School House System
Berlin - Bad Saarow Without Borders Film Festival. A standing ovation for the Young Plato SUPERSTARS & FILM STARS ⭐️