Philosophical Inquiry with Children: An Australian history dedicated to creating an inquiring society

November 2016February 2017
Summer Research Scholarship


The history of philosophical inquiry with children in Australia can be traced back to the philosophy for children pedagogy founded by Matthew Lipman in the 1960’s. Worldwide, philosophy in schools has developed into both a discipline with its own set of materials, in which the initial materials written by Lipman play a significant role, as well as a sub-discipline of philosophy with its own history, traditions and body of literature. Lipman (2008) proved cognisant of the desire for different countries to appropriate his educational philosophy approach to reflect their own culture. He noted that ‘each nation is looking for an educational approach that reflects its own experience and is therefore in a sense autobiographical’ (p. 145). Australia is no different in this respect, in fact it has been a world leader.

Philosophy in schools was first introduced to Australian shores in the early 80’s, making it timely for the capture and preservation of the vast wealth of living history; the experiences of those who have been crucial in creating it. Drawing together a wide range of eminent writers in the field, from the very first to the present day, this book will offer the reader, not only a history, but the ability to reflect upon the twists and turns of its development. The book will establish a written record of the historical currents that have shaped philosophy in schools in Australia to what it is today, including issues of politics, such as individuals seeking to develop a niche consultancy or business in this emerging field, competing visions of the disciplinary core of philosophy, the relationship between philosophical inquiry and other subject areas, and the curriculum itself. By drawing attention to the role context and culture played in the adaptation of philosophy in schools in Australia, this book will inform possible future directions for classroom practice and research. Readers around the globe will be able to find points of reflection, similarity, and contrast, providing stimulus for further dialogue in relation to the development of philosophy in schools in their respective countries.

Expected outcomes and deliverables

The successful applicant will assist the editors with the production of an edited book, including: assisting with academic research, searching archives, internet searches, compiling bibliographic material, and assisting with editing.

The applicant will be offered the opportunity to write a paper on one of the aspects of the project. Possible opportunity to generate publication.

Suitable for

This project is open to applications from 3rd year and honours UQ enrolled students with a background in philosophy, especially philosophy of education or philosophy for children.

Project members

Associate Professor Gilbert Burgh

Honorary Associate Professor