Category Archives: Thinking Time

“Thinking Time helps children think more creatively and critically and it helps them to find their own voices within a climate of dialogue – that is of respectful listening and responding – which fosters moral and civic virtues as well as more strictly cognitive ones.” Prof. Joe Dunne

Welcome to our ‘Thinking Time’ blog.

This blog has been set up in order to help us to understand and answer important questions. We also want to share our opinions with the wider school community (staff, parents, other children) and to discuss different ideas. In school we love discussing important issues during Thinking Time* and we would really like to know what YOU think. We believe that it’s much easier to understand things and to make informed opinions once you understand different people’s point of view.

Please feel free to respond to any post. It is really import to share your opinions but it’s equally important to respect the opinions of others. Remember it is ok to disagree with something you’ve read. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion.

As a result of this discussion forum, it is hoped that we (children and adults) will develop skills that will help us to grapple with complex moral issues and to negotiate what we believe to be the right course of action in any moral dilemma.

*Thinking time is also known as philosophy for kids. It creates a sense of participation and the dialogue/process can increase children’s confidence. It can create a refined sense of equality, all children have a voice and all opinions are listened to. They can challenge each other in a non-combative way, allowing the other the right to reply. This is in direct contrast with debating where emphasis is on defeating the opponent.

Inspiration all around us

During Thinking Time or P4C we discuss a huge variety of topics. All sessions begin with a question. Usually along the lines of,

I wonder if….???

I wonder what….???

I wonder why…???

We have used poetry, newspaper articles, fables, old sayings, photographs, art, current affairs, real life dilemmas, advertising and much much more in order to stimulate curiosity and initiate dialogue. 

A couple of weeks ago, we decided to use a piece of music.

The children listen to “Cold Fact” by I have a Tribe. (Link below) They were asked to recall any memorable lyrics or to share any emotions they experienced while listening to the track.

The discussion that followed was nothing short of breath taking. Some of the lyrics they found most intriguing were:

“I’m so grateful to the bodies that have carried me, my family and empathy”

“I can speak to you cos I’ve so many flaws”

“Give to me your gun, can I please shoot the war”

“You know a dog must show his teeth, sometimes”

On this particular occasion we decided to focus on the idea of “shooting the war”. Somebody suggested that had Hitler been shot during World War 1, World War 2 might have been avoided and 60 million people might have been saved.  Another pupil wondered whether it was ever justified to kill. If killing one person would ultimately save millions, would it be ok?

Five to six minutes into our lesson we had found our “I wonder” question for discussion……….. 


Please feel free to share your opinions in the comments section below.

*****Remember it’s ok to change your opinion if you feel differently after reading the opinions of others.

Looking from both sides……….

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

Brian Bilston

(now read from bottom to top and discuss)

Why indeed?

Image result for why do philosophy

An extremely reasonable question emerged during the week at BETNS. I was asked by one of the children on yard, 

"Why do we do Thinking Time, what's it good for?" 

There was only one solution for such a deep question....... dialogue. 

We needed a community of inquisitive minds to ponder this basic but core question.

I suggested that we use the question as the starting point to our next Thinking Time/P4C session with the children from 4th class.

What followed was mind blowing, I'm sure some of the participants will leave their ideas below but here is a sample of the responses we were treated to.

"when we're having a group discussion, everybody gets a chance to listen to each other. It makes it easier to give an opinion."

"When we're discussing issues together it's never hard to think of ideas, everything slows down when we listen to each other. Outside this lesson, life is just spinning around. It's too fast."

"Philosophy or Thinking Time gives us the chance to practice being ourselves."

"I love how there's no pressure, there's no right or wrong answers, we are not forced to get things right but we still learn loads." 

It’s Just a PENCIL….

We were having a class discussion soon after we returned from the winter break when one of the children said,

“nobody’s perfect, that’s why pencils have rubbers.”

This statement sparked an immediate and seemingly automatic response from a number of other children. Some were adamant that the rubber was like a ‘know it all’ jumping in every time the pencil made the slightest mistake. “Maybe the pencil doesn’t want to be perfect…..”

We decided that this would be the perfect starting point to our next Thinking Time/philosophical discussion.

Please share your views or build on the comments/observations of others in the comments section below.

Feel free to disagree with anything you read but DO offer your alternative point of view.



A Chimp in our Brain???

Today our discussion was all about our instincts and our natural reactions to different situations. We wondered why we often make bad choices even though our brains know what we really should be doing?

The children gave lots of examples…..

“I know I shouldn’t always argue with my sister but sometimes I go crazy when she walks into my room without knocking. I don’t care what she wants, I just get so angry and I think she’s just trying to wind me up.”

Same child – “I know I could stay calm and just explain to her that it really irritates me and that I would prefer if she could knock first, but my brain doesn’t act like that, I just get angry and have an argument with her”

“Sometimes when somebody is looking at me in the yard I immediately think that they hate me and that they are talking about me, I don’t know why I think like this because they are usually my friends”

“This one time my dad asked me to make him a cup of tea, when I was getting the milk I noticed that a box of chocolates were hiding on top of the fridge, I could not resist the temptation to take some even though I knew I wasn’t allowed. I took around four of them and immediately went up stairs, I ate one but then I got really guilty and I sneaked back down and put the other three back in the box”

Question from another child: Why didn’t you just eat them all?

Response: I think my brain had too much time to think about what I was doing, by the time I ate the first one I felt too guilty to eat the rest.

Our discussion reminded me of a book I had recently read called The Chimp Paradox. So when my turn came around I spoke about this. The author explained that our brain could be divided into 3 parts; The Human, The Computer and The Chimp

The Human Part: always knows best, can give us sound advice, is practical, if we give it a chance it can help us to avoid making silly choices, is not the strongest area of the brain though!!!

The Computer Part: Records and remembers stuff, good experiences, bad experiences, facts and assumptions, everything we remember is stored in there.

The Chimp Part: rushes to conclusions, is highly emotional, often makes us feel threatened or paranoid, is very powerful, is usually the first part of our brain to react to a situation, can get us in trouble if we don’t manage it!!!!

Children wondered if we could use our Chimp as an excuse when we get in trouble.

Others wondered if everyone’s brain was the same.

Others suggested that they felt better about some of the things they were guilty about, they wouldn’t blame the chimp but maybe they could change their behaviour by over-ruling the chimp and giving themselves a little time to think about what the best thing to do might be!

It was agreed that everybody probably had similar instincts but not everybody reacted in the same way to situations. It was noted that the Chimp part of your brain is on ‘overtime’ when you are at school because ‘it’s impossible not to shout out even though I know it’s not the right thing to do’ 

Chimp Brain


Have you any stories to share with us?

Have you ever done things that you regretted soon after?

Have you ever made the same mistakes more than once?

Why do you think that is?



Thanks for reading.