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Title: The transformative potential of philosophical dialogue: space for children and young people to explore their multi-storied lives
Authors: Bowden, Lauren Elizabeth
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis explores experiences of philosophical dialogic inquiry as a pedagogical approach with children and young people (CYP), for example, the use of Philosophy for Children (P4C). It contains four chapters: a systematic literature review, a critique of ethical and methodological choices, an empirical research project and a reflexive chapter, which considers personal and professional implications of the thesis. Chapter 1: How do children and young people experience the process of philosophical dialogic inquiry and the wider implications of this pedagogical approach? This systematic literature review explores children and young people’s (CYP’s) experiences of philosophical dialogic inquiry, a pedagogical approach that invites CYP to engage in critical thought and discuss a philosophical topic together. A metaethnography was used as a process to search and synthesise qualitative literature. Five papers were selected and reviewed. The key themes identified were features of a dialogic process, experiences of learning as a sociocultural experience and, reconstructed perceptions of the self, others, and learning. The influence of the context on the experiences of CYP was also identified as a critical theme. A line of argument was expressed in a visual form to illustrate the relationship of these themes to one and other. The review highlights the momentary experience of engaging in a dialogic process and wider implications for CYP, such as, engagement in dialogue outside of the school context and shifts in perceptions. Teacher accounts in the synthesised research also illustrated how philosophical dialogic inquiry can challenge adults’ perceptions of CYP and what they are capable of. This may illustrate the potential for transformative change for CYP and adults. Chapter 2: An ethical and methodological critique This chapter explores ethical and methodological considerations during the development of the research project outlined in Chapter Three. The philosophical orientation of the research was social constructionism; therefore, the construction of language and power were critically considered throughout. The research was informed by participatory principles and narrative inquiry. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the research was facilitated virtually. Thus, virtual methodologies, and the associated implications of this, were continually reflected upon. iv Relational ethicality guided the process of the research as there was ongoing attunement to interpersonal dynamics. This is arguably an aspect of quality and rigour in qualitative research (Groundwater‐Smith & Mockler, 2007). Chapter 3: A narrative inquiry with autistic young people and teachers in their school: how are the narratives they have constructed about themselves and their experiences woven and explored during philosophical dialogue? The purpose of this empirical research is to understand how stories can be constructed and enacted in P4C. The project was undertaken in a specialist school / sixth form in the North East of England and adopted a qualitative approach. Autistic CYP, and teaching staff participated in the construction of the research approach, analysis, and dissemination decisions. Virtual semi-structured interviews were carried out to explore biographical stories and experiential stories. The interviews were constructed and analysed using Narrative Orientated Inquiry, Collocation Analysis and Critical Narrative Analysis. Findings are discussed with regards to the connections in the rich life stories and experiential stories shared by an individual, this aims to address how narratives can be woven and explored during a P4C process. By developing an understanding of the transformative potential of philosophical dialogue, I hope this will inform holistic understandings of CYP, and creative pedagogical practice. Chapter 4: How did I shape the research and how did the research shape me? Personal and professional implications. This chapter explores personal and professional implications of the research project outlined in Chapter Three. Engaging in participatory processes had implications on how I negotiated a relational dynamic when working alongside CYP and teachers. The use of narrative psychology was therapeutic and transformational, this consolidated narrative ways of ‘being’ as a key aspect of my professional practice. The stories shared in the research also prompted me to rethink pedagogy and how I could construct space for shared reflection on pedagogical approaches, and the underpinning philosophical principles, in education. Unpicking and understanding moments of reflexivity during the research has highlighted my key values as a person, researcher, and Educational Psychologist (EP).
Description: DAppEdPsy Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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