Thinking Moves - Metacognition Made Simple


I've been working so much, along with my DialogueWorks colleagues Bob House & Roger Sutcliffe, on Thinking Moves over the past couple of years and it's wonderful to see so many people and schools adopting this apporoach.  More training courses are being announced on the DialogueWorks website, along with P4C Plus and Whole School Values - Whole Person Virtues courses.  Contact me here or there for details!

Aug 29, 2:07 PM

A very different start to the new year

My best wishes go out to everyone who has started, or is about to start, their new school year.  I'm fortunate to have worked in schools around the world and all are concerned with getting students back to school but I know the reservations that come with that.  

I've spent the majority of the school closure time running courses online and developing materials but I'm very happily having a return to training in front of teachers rather than in front of a screen, starting at the beginning of September.  That said, the new normal has highlighted the various benefits of online training so I'm continuing with that too (see the DialogueWorks website for details).

I'm very much looking forward to continuing my work with all the schools I've been fortunate to be involved with over the years.  Needless to say, don't hesitate to be in touch if you need any advice.

In the meantime, have a happy, safe and enjoyable reunion!

Aug 29, 1:34 PM


Paradoxically, the huge collection of interesting and useful stuff I’ve collected over the years causes me a problem in deciding what to put here, so here’s the plan.  I’ll recommend some good stuff in this section but I’ll keep adding new bits via the news page and occasionally updating this page.  If you’re looking for something specific though, just email me and I’ll do my best to help.  
For the background to P4C, the impact it has, upcoming events, resources and much more.
You simpy have to take a look at Thinking Moves, an incredibly innovative, comprehensive, comprehensible and memorable approach to metacognition.  There are many free resources on the website but also lots of other things to interest anyone involved in P4C and/or metacognition.  
A treasure trove of P4C-based resources and the opportunity to contribute yourself – with financial rewards!  Well worth joining. 
Although Open Futures is no longer operating in schools, they built up an incredible legacy over a 15-year period and you can find their story and collection of resources here.  There were four strands – askit, growit, cookit and filmit – with hands-on learning linked to the whole curriculum. Many schools still fondly see themselves, rightly so, as Open Futures schools. 
Robert Fisher’s site.  He’s written books which have accompanied me whenever I’m working, including Teaching Thinking, Games for Thinking and Stories for Thinking.  There are lots of really interesting articles here too, all on the subject of teaching thinking and creativity. 
Tom Wartenberg’s wonderful site, with detailed discussion plans for almost 130 children’s books and advice on philosophy for children.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  A really valuable site for anyone wanting to explore particular concepts that they think might arise in their enquiries with children.
A huge collection of video & audio clips, all searchable by keywords, topics and subjects.  A brilliant place to find some really interesting and engaging stimuli for enquiry.  
If you’d like to experience philosophical enquiry for yourself, have a look at the PiPS website and see if there’s a venue near you.  If not, why not start one?  Things sometimes seem much clearer over a pint of real ale or a glass of wine!



A few resources

These are a few of the resources I’ve written for SAPERE, to give you an idea of what’s in the RESOURCES section of the SAPERE website.  


 All you need is love
Are we too safe?
Circus Panda
Elephant art



Here’s a picture to
make you think

Yes, you’ve recognised the animal as a llama after reading about Django and Eric on the home page, although Jelly Roll, pictured here, looks very different in some respects.  Let’s not go down the avenue again of how you know it’s a llama though, as there are other interesting things to think about.  For example, who do you think is in charge in this picture?  Or is anyone in charge?  Jelly Roll is certainly much bigger and stronger than the little six year old, but it seems she has Jelly Roll on a lead and he appears quite happy for this to happen.

Questions you might like to explore could be:

  • What makes ‘human animals’ different from ‘animal animals’?
  • Is it right that humans should train animals?
  • What’s the difference between training a seal to do tricks in a zoo and training a seal to save lives at sea?
  • Do humans have the right to do what they like to animals?  The planet?
  • Is a human any more advanced than a worm?

I’m sure if you show this picture to children, they’ll come up with some interesting questions too.  Why not try it, then try and work out what’s ‘behind’ their questions?  Are they just information-seeking questions or are there some ‘big ideas’ or concepts that lie within them?  Once you start thinking about this, you’re beginning to scratch the surface of philosophical enquiry! 

Download this as a pdf

Books I’d recommend


Philosophy for Children through the Secondary Curriculum (Nick Chandley & Lizzy Lewis, Continuum 2012, ISBN 1441196617)


Thinking Moves A - Z: Metcognition Made Simple (

A simply great way to develop metacognition, in schools, in business and in life generally. 


Teaching Thinking (Robert Fisher, Continuum 2003, ISBN 0826468055)
A really good book that explores the teaching of thinking through philosophical discussion.  I love how each chapter begins with a quotation from a distinguished scholar, followed by a supporting one from school children.


Thinking in Education (Matthew Lipman, Cambridge University Press 2003) 
Sadly, Matthew Lipman died in December 2010 but left us with a legacy for the future.  He’s written many books but this one, for me, is the one I keep coming back to.   


But Why? (Sara Stanley & Steve Bowkett 2004, Network Educational Press, ISBN 1855391724)
Sara’s an Early Years specialist and although this book is a great guide to P4C throughout the primary school, it’s an invaluable companion for EYFS & KS1 teachers.


P4C Pocketbook (Barry Hymer & Roger Sutcliffe, Teachers’ Pocketbooks 2012, ISBN 190661041X)
Two of the biggest influences in my P4C career, Barry & Roger have written a great little guide to P4C in the classroom.


The Philosophy of Childhood (Gareth B. Matthews, Harvard University Press 1994, ISBN0674 )
If you’re serious about using philosophical enquiry with children, this is pretty much essential reading.  We can all recognise a child when we see one, but what actually is a child?  See, now you’re thinking about it, you’ll have to buy the book to find out more!


Games for Thinking (Robert Fisher, Nash Pollock 1997, ISBN 189825513X)
An invaluable resource for games and activities the encourage children to think.  Great for starters to P4C sessions.


Story books

Just a few, as there’s a huge pool of wonderful picture books to choose from, but these are all tried and tested by me.


I Want To Be (Tony Ross)
The story of Little Princess and her search for how she should be now it’s time to grow up.  

Tadpole’s Promise (Jeanne Willis & Tony Ross)
The story of a love affair between a tadpole and a butterfly and how difficult it is sometimes to keep a promise.

John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat
(Jenny Wagner & Ron Brooks) 
A P4C staple that explores relationships, jealousy and means/ends, amongst many other things.

The Giving Tree (Shel Silverstein)
A beautiful story of a boy and a tree that keeps giving.  A fabulous stimulus for enquiry.


Window (Jeannie Baker) 
A series of Jeannie’s wonderful collages that shows the changing view from one child’s window as he grows up.

Michael (Tony Bradman & Tony Ross)  
The cover says ‘Being different isn’t always easy…’ but it seems to come naturally to Michael!

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge (Mem Fox & Julie Vivas)  
Wilfred has a friend in the old people’s home who has lost her memory and so he embarks on a touching exploration to help retrieve it for her.

Le livre des grands contraires philosophiques (Oscar Brenifier & Jacques Despres)
In French, a stunningly illustrated collection of different viewpoints on a range of philosophical concepts, such as time, eternity, infinity and mind/body.