Philosophy for Children is not about the lives or even the thoughts of the great philosophers. It is about the practice and procedure of thinking more critically. A format for pedagogy in nursery, primary and secondary classrooms includes an initial focusing exercise, teacher modelling of Socratic questioning, and peer learning through pairs or groups continuing this questioning and working out negotiated solutions. One session per week over an academic year is the minimum requirement. The research on P4C is extremely encouraging. Studies in Scotland found that P4C children were ahead of control groups in primary. Two years later when the children were in secondary, the difference was still evident. Other studies found gains in socio-emotional aspects and self-concept. These studies were replicated in Texas with exactly the same results. An RCT study in England then found P4C was associated with increased performance in attainments in English and Math. P4C is used in 60 countries around the world, including Australia.

About the speaker:

Keith Topping is Professor of Educational and Social Research at the University of Dundee.

His main research focus is Peer Learning and other forms of non-professional tutoring - in core skills and across subject boundaries, sectors and contexts of education and lifelong learning. These methods are targeted to: raise achievement; enhance motivation, self-esteem and confidence; develop social, communication and other transferable skills; and promote inclusion.

Keith is director of the Centre for Peer Learning. He directed the Higher Education Effective Learning Project, was co-director of the national Read On project  and of the national Problem-Solving project. Keith was a member of the International Reading Association task force charged with translating the PISA and PIRLS research studies of achievement in 37 countries worldwide into culturally relevant policy and practice guidelines. He was convenor of the Parents in Education Research Network. He has worked several European projects, for example: a five-country project on online learning for parent trainers and parents in maths and science and helping the Maltese government develop parent trainers. He also has interests in problematic behaviour in schools, leading the Scottish Executive project on Promoting Social Competence in schools and co-directing the international Intervening with Disturbed Adolescents project. He also has interests in electronic literacy and computer aided assessment.

Recently he has worked with Scottish Government on the development of the Primary One Literacy Assessment and Action Resource (POLAAR) literacy assessment system for pre-school children. He has also been involved in projects exploring parent involvement in language development with children aged 0-3 years, using 24-hour recordings and computer analysis of these. He has also been working on studies of quality of implementation of book reading and outcomes in primary and secondary schools.

Keith's published works are approaching 400 (books, chapters, peer reviewed journal papers, and distance learning packages), with translations into Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Chinese, Danish, Arabic, Turkish, Russian, Catalan and Hebrew. Prior to entering Higher Education in 1992 he worked for a number of local Education authorities, and for Social Services and Health.


The event will be preceded by a light refreshment on the Forgan Smith Foyer, level 3 of the Forgan Smith Building, starting at 2:30 pm. Please RSVP for catering purposes using the link at the top of this page.

For inquiries, please contact


About Research seminars and workshops

Research seminars and workshops in critical thinking, pedagogy, and philosophy by the UQCTP. 

About Developing Thinking Capacity in Children: The role of Philosophy for Children

Keith Topping, Professor of Educational and Social Research at the University of Dundee, will present on developing thinking capacity in children and the role of philosophy for children.


Forgan Smith Building (1)
The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072