The Philosophy Foundation: Thoughtings

Puzzles, problems and paradoxes in poetry to think with

By: Peter Worley , Andrew Day


Or purchase digital products from our partners:


Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 195 x 126mm
Pages : 216
ISBN : 9781781350874
Format: Hardback
Published: August 2012

Thoughtings is a poetry collection with a difference.

The name ‘Thoughtings’ was inspired by a 5-year-old who, when asked to explain what thinking is without using the word ‘think’ said “It’s when you’re thoughting”. Children love pondering big philosophical questions like ‘Does the universe end?’, ‘Where is my mind?’ and ‘Can something be true and false at the same time?’. These verses capture that impulse in the growing mind and feed it further. These are not poems or, at least, not in the traditional sense of the word… They are a kind of poem specifically designed around a particular puzzle or problem that might be thought more philosophy than poetry. Here’s to the joy of puzzlement!

Thoughtings was named Teach Primary‘s Best Book 2014!

Picture for author Peter Worley

Peter Worley

Peter Worley BA MA FRSA is co-founder and CEO of The Philosophy Foundation, President of SOPHIA, and an award-winning author and editor of books about doing philosophy in schools.

Peter is resident philosopher at 4 state primary schools in Lewisham, visiting philosopher at Wellington College and Eagle House School, and a Visiting Research Associate at Kings College London's Philosophy Department. He has delivered training for philosophy departments across the UK, including Edinburgh, Warwick, Oxford Brookes and Birmingham Universities.

He talks, presents, writes and gives workshops about philosophy in schools and The Philosophy Foundation's work - but importantly continues to work in the classroom which is the inspiration for his pedagogy, philosophy in schools practice, theory and writing.

The Philosophy Foundation.

Thoughtings and The Philosophy Shop on The Guardian Teacher Network.

Peter Worley: It's About How You Think'

Picture for author Andrew Day

Andrew Day

Andrew has a background in language teaching and a degree in Philosophy and Social Anthropology, the combination of which have sparked his passionate curiosity into the part that language plays in the development of thinking. Having joined The Philosophy Foundation in 2009, Andrew quickly invested in their ethos, striving to encourage young people to think philosophically.

Read this article featuring Thoughtings on The Guardian Teacher Network.


  1. We thought we'd review a book, without any fear.

    Puzzles, problems and paradoxes in poetry,

    Thoughtings by Worley and Day is full of opportunity.

    So, as we review this magical book,

    There are many exercises to use as a hook.

    Pupils will love the pondering philosophical questions,

    That will leave you with great teaching sessions.

    Ok, we'll stop. This is no ordinary poetry book -” it is more than that, and goes beyond the usual remits for exploring verse. Thoughtings is a collection of philosophical poems that lead to questions to help pupils explore their opinions and thoughts further, challenging children to explore whether things are what they seem to us to be.

    Challenging children to think about: minds and brains; word wonders; poems to do; number wonders; puzzles and paradoxes; you, me, aliens and others; space, time and other weird things; how do you know that?; love, goodness and happiness; are you free?; school rules. Each poem with the book contains a series of questions created to get pupils thinking deeply about the theme of the verse, encouraging answers which are not right or wrong-¦we all view the world uniquely and our thoughts make us what we are. In fact, the book explores what thoughts are with this poem:

    I had a thought

    I kept it in my mind

    Where's that?

    My mind is in my brain

    Which is in my head

    Which is under my hat.

    Following on from the poem above, the authors give guidance questions which encourage philosophical thinking and investigation -” and this is the same with all the other poems within this book. These poems are great for use in any p4c sessions you might be teaching, with the book being a great resource to be able to dip into when needed.

    See the full review here:
  2. This book was written by a couple of wordsmiths.

    Poems are (generally) short things and the people who write them have to craft something powerful, despite the need to be fairly succinct. There's an art to choosing and using just the right turn of phrase or metaphor to capture an idea or feeling. If you're not sure what we mean, try following someone like Ian McMillan on Twitter. There's something about limiting yourself to 140 characters that brings out the best in a wordsmith (this sort of thing, for example).
    Peter Worley and Andrew Day (the authors of -˜Thoughtings') are wordsmiths. Except their craft is to take some of the biggest themes our world has to offer (happiness, love, our place in the universe) and condense them into poems suitable for children. Now that's an art.
    In his foreword to -˜Thoughtings', Michael Rosen (aha! another wordsmith) uses a great simile-¦
    “This collection of poems is very, very irritating. It's irritating like having toast crumbs in your bed. It's irritating like having toast crumbs in your brain.”

    So, -˜Thoughtings' is a collection of poems (82 in total) to irritate your class. In the nicest possible toast-crumby way. In the way that the best questions and lessons end up with your pupils complaining of brain ache, these poems will stimulate young minds into thinking big things by way of puzzles, problems and paradoxes.
    The authors of -˜Thoughtings', Peter Worley and Andrew Day work for The Philosophy Foundation and their experience in running philosophy sessions in schools and getting small brains to think deep thoughts shows. The poems in the book were inspired by the ideas of primary school children-¦
    “We took their insights, brainwaves and verbal entanglements into puzzles and poems for the young - and when we took them back to the classroom, they went down a storm.”

    We think strongly that the best learning journeys begin with a pinch or two of curiosity and/or wonder. 
    (Incidentally, that's why we keep banging on about Hywel Roberts' Oops and rate it so highly (enough to tweak @TeacherToolkit's 5 Minute Lesson Plan to make it Primary-friendly and Oops-based-¦ The 5 Minute Primary Lesson Plan). 
    It takes skill to tap into that wonder and build on it. Worley and Day have it in spades. They supplement each poem with a series of questions to get pupils dissecting each -˜Thoughting' to pull out the essence(s).

    -˜Thoughtings' is split into 11 chapters covering themes as diverse as -˜Minds and Brains', -˜Number Wonders', -˜Puzzles and Paradoxes' and -˜Love, Goodness and Happiness'. These aren't deep poems in any sombre sense - they're just as playful, silly and lively as in any other anthology for children (perhaps more so). It's in their underlying theme, the accompanying questions and discussion that the depth lies.
    -˜Thoughtings' is a cracking book. As with all the books we review, we only write about it because we want to tell you about it. Despite it being tried and tested at KS2, we could see it being used with younger children and certainly into KS3/4 too. It's perfect for Circle Time, PSE, Literacy-¦ You could even start a maths lesson with one of the number poems. Have you ever spent a maths lesson discussing a poem? Wouldn't that be superb? Do it! (and don't forget to let us know how you get on!)
    If you use Ian Gilbert's Thunks, P4C or just love provoking your class into deeper thinking, -˜Thoughtings' is for the philosophising wordsmith in you.
    NB. If you like this sort of thing, keep an eye out for an upcoming LyricalP4C post - some ideas of using songs to similar effect.

    See the full review here:
  3. This may look like a book - but in fact, it's a portal; a gateway into the boundless possibilities of the mind's perspectives, and stepping through it in the company of your pupils could enrich both your experience of their learning and theirs immeasurably. There are no answers hidden here, just some of the most important philosophical questions that have nagged at humankind since the beginning of our self-consciousness, presented in deceptively simple poems that can unfold in an infinite number of ways. Whether you choose to take a single thoughting and turn it into a complete lesson, or keep the book on your desk to dip into whenever the mood feels right for some mental off-roading, there could surely be few more joyful and exciting ways of encouraging creative, empathetic thinking.

  4. Plato said that “Philosophy begins in wonder”, and Thoughtings provides a wonderfully rich variety of ideas, concepts, mysteries and questions for children to wonder about. Each Thoughting poem aims to stimulate curiosity about some aspect of young people's lives and -” as an optional learning avenue - the nature of the language we use to understand it. Consequently teachers will find this a -˜quick entry' resource for stimulating thinking & communication skills in the classroom.”
  5. 'A stimulating and imaginative range of catalysts to thought. '
  6. Thoughtings is a delightful, clever, rich resource. It pokes, prods and tickles children's minds by turning life's conundra into light and inviting poemy thingies. Accessible, funny and provocative, this collection brings out, rather than stuffs in, learning and will guide your pupils to the lost goals of education: to question; to think; to enquire. Thoughtings creatively combines the ancient art form of poetry with the ancient Socratic method of question-asking to produce a warm and welcome counterpoint to the strictures of a utilitarian curriculum.
  7. If you want to do some thinking aerobics and some brain gymnastics then this is the book for you. I always thought that philosophy and poetry were linked by more than the letter P and this book proves it!

Write your own review