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The Incidence of Philosophy on Discursive and Language Competence in Four-Year-Old Pupils

Author(s): Marie-France Daniel | Jean-Charles Pettier | Emmanuèle Auriac-Slusarczyk

Journal: Creative Education
ISSN 2151-4755

Volume: 02;
Issue: 03;
Start page: 296;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Discursive and Language Competence | Childhood | Argumentative Discourse | Philosophical Dialogue

Can philosophical dialogue foster the developmental process of certain language and discursive capabilities, such as decentering and abstraction, in four-year old children? And if so, to what extent? In this paper, the authors examine discursive and language competence in a group of four-year-old children during a four-month philosophical praxis (experimental group), compared to that of a group of five-year-old children that experienced no philosophical praxis (control group). The analysis was conducted using two instruments: 1) for discursive competence, the typology of exchanges put forward by Daniel et al. (underlying criteria include the presence/absence of a common problem to solve, centering/decentering of thinking, complexity of interventions and cognitive skills, etc.) and 2) for language competence, the language markers that emerged from the transcripts (“I”, “we”, “he – particular”, “they – general”, “you”.) These two instruments contributed to situating the children’s discourse within a process of increasing complexity related to decentering and abstraction. Results indicate that the children in the experimental group engaged in diversified exchanges (three types: anecdotal, monological, dialogical) with a predominance of the monological type and the use of language markers related to the general “they”, while the children in the control group engaged in anecdotal exchanges with a predominant use of “I”.
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