In Shapinsay School we enjoy doing Philosophy. If you would like to find out more about it, please contact us or go to the Sapere website. You can find out what we have been discussing in Philosophy (or P4C - Philosophy for Children) by looking at our blog below.

Our Enquiries


For one of our recent enquiries we used 2 chess pieces – a knight and a bishop – as our starting points. We have been working on identifying concepts and we came up with the following concepts from the chess pieces:


Art – moulded, carved, are the pieces the same if they come from the same mould?

Reality – controlled chess pieces having certain moves

State / Religion – knight and bishop

Class – certain pieces have more power


Winning and Losing

Black and white


Some of the questions were:


Why does the King have more power than the Queen?

If something has more power than another, does it automatically favour things of a higher standard?

Why black and white and not blue and red?

Is Chess racist because it’s black against white?

Do bigger people control us like in chess?

Why does white always go first – is white better?

Are Kings more important than Knights?

What would chess pieces do if they were alive?

Why do they have to move in certain directions?

The question chosen was “Is Chess racist because it’s black against white?”. The discussion raised some interesting points about perception of colour and people’s ideas of black and white being opposites in things like stories. The children also brought up issues from history where black and white people were treated differently. Some folk felt that black and white had no other significance other than them being easier to tell apart and produce. In the end, the general consensus was that they didn’t feel racist while playing chess, and that there was not a racist element to chess. Racism though was something they felt did exist and something which they disagreed with.

Why do philosophy?

Here are some of the children's ideas....


What makes a good school?

We explored what makes a good school -

Being friendly to everyone – FRIENDLINESS

Doing as you are told – OBEDIENCE

Thinking for yourself – INDEPENDENCE

Being honest – HONESTY

Having fun – ENJOYMENT


Being neat and careful – METICULOUSNESS

Being kind – KINDNESS

We discussed these concepts and thought about each one and why they would be good for a school. Then we thought of questions about them.

Can you be too kind?

Can you ever work too hard?

Will people get hurt if you are careful?

Can you have too much fun?

Can you be too honest?

What if you are so independent that you don’t let anyone help you with anything?

Should you do something that is not safe if it is what you have been told?

How do you know the difference between being friendly in a good way and being over-friendly?

We chose to discuss whether you could ever have too much fun. There were some interesting ideas and thoughts.

Belonging by Jeannie Baker

We looked at the book called "Belonging" by Jeannie Baker.

Here are the questions we asked (the one we have chosen to discuss is in bold)

Who is the boy?

Was it the guy next door who she got married to?

Why does it only have a picture every 2 years?

Why did she put a trampoline outside?

Why are there no words?

When did she have the baby?

Does "Tracy" mean something and where do names come from?

Why did she put a bath outside?

Whose perspective is it taken from?

Why does it say "sorry" in the sky?

If the book gets famous, will the Earth become a better place to live like in the end of the book?

Will the family continue living there for the rest of time?

What is the purpose of the book?

Why is the same bus at the start there at the finish?

Is the town making a change for a reason? Eg global warming?

Why is it through a window?

Why is the title "Belonging"?

What does the story represent?

Is there a meaning or moral?

What age was she when she had her baby?

Why does she love him?

Why is it set in a hot country?

Why is there a picture for every 2 years?

Why does it go through one window?

Is it  good place to grow up?

Did it take 2 years for her to fully change?

Why does it skip so many years?



The Easter Story

We watched an animated version of the Easter Story.

Here are the questions we asked - the one we chose to talk about is in bold.

Are there any links in films or in books to the Bible?

Do you think Narnia is related to the death of Jesus Christ?

Is Heaven real?

Where is Heaven if space never ends?

Why were people saying bad things to him when he helped them?

How did Jesus roll the stone?

Why did the sky turn darker?

Why do angels wear white?

Why did God not free him before he died?

Why did Jesus want to die?

Why did he die and how did he go to Heaven?

Why was the stone shaped like an egg?

Can anyone go to Heaven?

How was Jesus raised to life?


We read the story "Dragons and Giants" and have been thinking about what brave means.

What do you think? Here are some of our questions:

What is the snake's name?

Can you be afraid and brave?

Is being afraid really the opposite of being brave, because if you didn't have fears you would have nothing to face - nothing would be scary and you need something scary to be brave.

Why do they need to be brave?

Are they brave?

Are Frog and Toad scared?

How are the people in the story brave?

Why did they say they were not afraid even if they were?

How did the people kill the dragons and the giants?

How do you look brave?

What do Frog and Toad think of the snake and the eagle?

Are they braver than before after they have seen all these things?

Why did they keep going when they met the snake?

Do you have to experience things to be brave?

Are they being brave all along?

Why do Frog and Toad want to be brave?


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