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Fostering citizenship in marginalised children through participation in community of philosophical inquiry

Cassidy, Claire and Christie, Donald (2013) Fostering citizenship in marginalised children through participation in community of philosophical inquiry. In: European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, 2013-08-28 - 2013-08-31.

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This paper presents a series of case studies in a range of Scottish educational settings of children who might be considered to be socially marginalised, including children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and children who because of significant social disadvantage are looked after in residential care settings. These children were involved in an extended study of the potential value of participation in practical philosophy in the form of Community of Philosophical Inquiry (CoPI). The Curriculum for Excellence for all children in Scotland aged 3 to 18 has ‘Responsible Citizens’ and ‘Effective Contributors’ as two of the four ‘Capacities’ identified as the key outcomes of the curriculum (Scottish Executive, 2004). CoPI has certain features and qualities that would appear to create conducive conditions for the achievement of these broad goals. The present study investigates the ways in which marginalised children engage with CoPI and attempts to evaluate the impact of participation in such learning activity on key aspects of citizenship education, including children’s dialogical skills, critical thinking and reason giving. From careful analysis of recorded CoPI sessions, the level and quality of engagement of each of the case study children was assessed and this was related to other available information in order to ascertain the ways in which an approach such as CoPI might empower socially marginalised children. The analysis would support the hypothesis that in addition to benefiting from being provided with what Wegerif (2011) has described as “dialogic space”, marginalised children appear to benefit from the structure that is inherent in the practice of CoPI.