P4C and the Key Competencies

With thanks to Amy Eberhardt, Wairau Valley School and Mary Rea, Balmoral School

P4C and the Key Competencies – one unlocks the other

Self Management

Participation in philosophical communities of inquiry develops skills of self-management, through the implementation of core rules for collaborative inquiry, such as:

  • We listen to each other
  • We think about and build on each other’s ideas
  • We respect everyone’s ideas
  • There may be no single right answer

These rules provide an environment that is safe, tolerant and both socially and academically disciplined, and participants experience the benefits of managing their behaviour in the quality of the inquiry that results.



Students of all ages improve their critical thinking skills, logic, metacognition and reasoning. The explicit use of the thinking skills listed above is essential to philosophical inquiry, making it rigorous and satisfying, and taking discussion beyond mere conversation. Students’ intellectual curiosity is stimulated by the concepts and questions that are at the heart of philosophy, and the consistent practice of reflection develops responsibility for the quality of thinking.


Participating and Contributing

Philosophical exploration in the community of inquiry is a practice which engages both students and teachers, stimulating the desire to participate in meaningful discussion, and rewarding them with clarified values, examined ideas and views and an enthusiasm for lifelong learning. Skills of confident expression of ideas, and clarity in thinking, enable students to contribute effectively to other communities and prepares them for active citizenship.


Relating to Others

Doing philosophy in a community of inquiry gives all students a ‘voice’ as well as teaching them appropriate ways to express themselves and to have their contributions heard. The voices of all students are encouraged and included in classroom dialogue. A range of co-operative skills, such as those listed above, create a space in which students can interact with both gentleness and rigor. This in turn allows students to hear, appreciate and challenge each other’s thoughts and perspectives, and often leads to a new valuing of classmates.


Using Language

Engaging students in philosophical discussions improves oral language, comprehension, and social skills. Vocabulary is extended both by the explicit use of thinking skills and by the wide variety of questions and issues which are addressed by the community. Use of philosophy journals also develops thoughtful writing, and precision of expression. The language of reasoning creates bridges between students, and between students, parents, teachers and the wider community, that can allow the growth of an intergenerational community of inquiry.