Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice


published on March 27, 2020

Jane Gatley, Elliott Woodhouse, Joshua Forstenzer

Youth Philosophy Conferences and the Development of Adolescent Social Skills
A Case Study

In this paper we present an empirical case study into the effects of attending a philosophy conference on social skill development in 15- to 18-year-old students. We focus on the impact that the conference had on their communication skills, sociability, cooperation and teamwork skills, self-confidence, determination, social responsibility, and empathy. These are social skills previously studied in 2017 by Siddiqui et al. who found student development in these areas as a result of Philosophy for Children (P4C) sessions in primary schools. In this paper, we ask whether our conference—Pursuit of Knowledge—brought about comparable results. Overall, attendees reported that they felt that the conference had improved their communication skills, sociability, cooperation and teamwork, self-confidence, determination, social responsibility and empathy. We conclude that further research into the potential of models of philosophy akin to the model employed by the conference should be conducted. We discuss the potential of this model as a means of educating for social skills.

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