The Philosophy for Children program is an internationally recognized and internationally utilized program for developing the entire range of reasoning skills in young people from grade level K through 12. Its central aim is to help young people become more thoughtful and more reasonable persons. There are currently seven components to the program: three early elementary grades ( Getting Out Thoughts Together--- reasoning about experience Wondering at the World -- reasoning in nature and Looking for Meaning -- reasoning about language); two for middle school and junior high (Philosophical Inquiry -- basic reasoning skills and Ethical Inquiry -- reasoning in ethics); and two for secondary school (Writing How and Why -- reasoning in language arts, and Social Inquiry -- reasoning is social studies). Other components of the program are being developed.
In Philosophy for Children, students begin by reading texts in the form of stories. These stories are about fictional children who discover how to reason more effectively, and how to apply their reasoning to life situations. These stories are then discussed by the children in the classroom. Many problematic issues are encountered and examined. The students deliberate among themselves, and this process of deliberation is then internalized by the individual students: they become more reflective and begin to think for themselves. These deliberations evoke thinking that is skillful and deliberate, thinking that employs relevant criteria, is self-correcting, and is sensitive to context. It is not just any kind of thinking: it is critical thinking.