Publication Details

Gersch, I. (2016). Listening to children and young people and empowering them - some new techniques using philosophical and spiritual listening. An educational psychologist's story. South West Review, 2016 (Spring), 38-43.


This article outlines one area of research which I, as an educational and child psychologist, have been involved in for more than 30 years. The area is 'listening to children and young people (CYP): helping to empower them through giving them a voice'. The work has involved the development of various materials, including the Student Report and a version for students excluded from school, to the more recent spiritual listening tools, inviting children and young people to discuss their views about the big questions of life; namely, life's purpose and meaning. Fundamentally, such aspects are felt to be keys to understanding what drives us, how we learn, what we want to learn, how we behave and what our future plans might look like. A hypothesis has been proposed, positing that if we understand children's deeper motivations and drives, as evident from the meanings they attach to philosophical and spiritual questions, we might have a key to help them learn more effectively, behave well and make future plans to enhance their happiness and wellbeing. To enable adults to have such conversations with CYP, the Little Box of Big Questions 1 and 2, have been developed and published, and are used by psychologists and others, internationally, as assessment, therapeutic and research tools.