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'I find it easier to get on with people when I use philosophy'. Philosophy with children, self-regulation and engaged participation for children with emotional-behavioural and social communication difficulties

Cassidy, Claire and Marwick, Helen and Deeney, Lynn and McLean, Gillian and Rogers, Kirsten (2013) 'I find it easier to get on with people when I use philosophy'. Philosophy with children, self-regulation and engaged participation for children with emotional-behavioural and social communication difficulties. In: Scottish Educational Research Association, 2013-09-20 - 2013-09-22, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This paper addresses a GTCS-funded project seeking to explore the opportunities and support that a programme of Philosophy with Children might provide for a small group of children with autism or recognised behavioural difficulties. Once a week over a period of twelve weeks, children in two primary classes and one secondary class participated in Community of Philosophical Inquiry (CoPI), a practical and structured approach to philosophical dialogue. Within these groups there was at least one child with a diagnosis of autism or specific behavioural difficulties and it is these children that were the focus of the study. Three main aims shaped the study: 1. To what extent do children with autism and children with behaviour difficulties participate in practical philosophy sessions (CoPI)? 2. To what extent might children transfer the skills acquired in CoPI sessions into group work in the classroom? 3. Do children transfer the skills acquired in CoPI sessions into other social or academic situations? Throughout the study, the teachers facilitated CoPI sessions and completed observation records during the philosophy sessions and throughout collaborative group working situations. They also maintained reflective logs on the individual children’s participation. The teachers were interviewed about their observations. Findings indicate that even those children who might normally find class discussions or working collaboratively difficult participated fully in the CoPI sessions. There is evidence to support the claim that not only did the children in the study take some of the skills into groupwork activities, they used the skills in other aspects of school life. Initial findings suggest that some children with autism and/or behavioural difficulties can acquire useful transferrable skills through participation in CoPI.