Philosophy in Schools

Art and Philosophy with Children

An Introduction

I have been leading workshops with children and adults for 40 years, at the same time practicing as a painter. Since doing a Ph D in Philosophy, and attending sessions at a local school who are pioneers in Philosophy with Children, I’ve recently combined my interest in these two areas by devising workshops with youngsters which combine art and thinking – Thinking through Art.

Philosophy with Children (PWC) is a developing area of interest in many schools, and has been shown to have very positive results in honing thinking skills. My work extends the traditional P4C activities of thoughtful and challenging discussion, to looking, drawing and painting. Because of the variety of activities, sessions can be sustained over a half or even a whole day.

Philosophy has been defined as ‘thinking about thinking’. So, as well as practicing art, I’m interested not only in how we think about it, but how we can think through it. Is art a ‘language’? Can we think with shapes, colours, forms, as well as we can with words?

These workshops can be adapted for any age group and has been very successful with scholarship pupils. As in PWC discussions, the ‘facilitator’ guides rather than instructs, with the exception here of practical help with the use of materials.

Some remarks by teachers and children.

“As a suite of activities, the ‘Line’ workshop is great for provoking thinking about imagination, the value of aesthetic expression and aesthetic response generally.”
Steve Bramall, SAPERE and P4C

“You pitched this workshop exactly right. The children did some marvellous work, and went away with lots to think about.”
Sharon Davies, Manorbier VC School

“Pupils were very receptive and thoughtful during the initial question & answer session. They enjoyed sorting the pictures and drawing.
Excellent quiet focus on memorising a picture and then reproducing it.
Super balance of listening, talking, thinking, looking, doing and discovering.”
John Warlow Perrott Hill School

“The Philosophy in Art workshop was both highly informative and revealing. It was delivered in a very calm but authoritative manner, where the children felt empowered to offer their ideas and thoughts on a range of concepts around the history of art and the evaluation of artworks. The practical element was also excellent and really made the pupils consider their own concepts and perceptions about their own and other people’s art.”
Luke Osmond, Head of Art, Dragon School

Children

“I learnt if you focus you can draw better.”

“I have learnt that when you really look at a picture properly it is easier to draw it and you notice things you didn’t before.”

“A philosopher is a lover of wisdom. Art is also about looking and asking questions. ..To do art you’ve got to use your brain and your heart.”

“I find copying something real to the world interesting, but creating something with your own mind is a whole difference.”

“Philosophy? It’s asking questions to which there aren’t any answers”

“What are sculptures, really? Are they sort of real and not real?”