, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 19–27 | Cite as

I–Thou dialogical encounters in adolescents’ WhatsApp virtual communities

  • Arie KizelEmail author
Original Article


The use of WhatsApp as a means of communication is widespread amongst today’s youth, many of whom spent hours in virtual space, in particular during the evenings and nighttime in the privacy of their own homes. This article seeks to contribute to the discussion of the dialogical language and “conversations” conducted in virtual-space encounters and the way in which young people perceive this space, its affect on them, and their interrelations within it. It presents the findings of a study based on a community of philosophical inquiry in which young adults students discussed the “I” and “Thou” (the other) and the interaction between them in a WhatsApp community. The results evince that the youth related to the virtual space in very similar fashion to Buber’s “I–Thou” concept, the language they employed to describe what happened in it enabling an expansion of the conceptualization and research language to an “I-Space-Thou” model.


Dialogical philosophy Martin Buber I–Thou Philosophy with children/young adults Philosophy with learners WhatsApp 


  1. Avnon D (1998) Martin Buber: the hidden dialogue. Rowman and Littlefield, LanhamGoogle Scholar
  2. Bauman Z (2000) Liquid modernity. Polity, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  3. Boyd D (2007) Why youth ♥ social network sites: The role of networked publics in teenage social life. In: Buckingham D (ed) MacArthur foundation series on digital learning: youth, identity, and digital media volume. MIT Press, Cambridge, pp 119–142Google Scholar
  4. Buber M (1962) Werke. Erster Band: Schriften zur Philosophie. Lambert Schneider, Munich/HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  5. Buber M (1970) I and thou. Trans. W. Kauffman. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Buber M (2004) Between man and man. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Cavus N, Ibrahim D (2009) M-learning: an experiment using SMS to support learning new English language words. Br J Educ Technol 40(1):78–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Choudhary SR, Momin MIH, Kantharia SL (2015) Facebook and WhatsApp: beneficial or harmful? J Evid Based Med Healthc 2(17):2306–2311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Churchill D (2009) Educational applications of Web 2.0: using blogs to support teaching and learning. Br J Educ Technol 40(1):179–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Guilherme A (2015) Michel Serres’ Le Parasite and Martin Buber’s I and Thou: Noise in informal education affecting dialogue between communities in conflict in the Middle East. Educ Philos Theory. doi: 10.1080/00131857.2015.1031066 Google Scholar
  11. Guilherme A, Morgan WJ (2009) Martin Buber’s philosophy of education and its implications for adult non-formal education. Int J Lifelong Educ 28:565–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Haynes JM, Murris K (2012) Picturebooks, pedagogy and philosophy. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Haynes J, Murris K (2013) The realm of meaning: imagination, narrative and playfulness in philosophical exploration with young children. Early Child Dev Care 183(8):1084–1100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Heidegger M (1927). Being and time. Trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson. Basil Blackwell, Oxford (1978) Google Scholar
  15. Horwitz R (1978) Buber’s way to I and thou: an historical analysis. Lambert Schneider, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  16. Kavka M (2012) Verification (Bewahrung) in Martin Buber. J Jew Thought Philos 20(1):71–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kennedy K (2010) Philosophical dialogues with children: essays on theory and practice. The Edwin Mellon Press, LewistonGoogle Scholar
  18. Kizel A (2015a) “Life goes on even if there’s a gravestone”: philosophy with children and adolescents on virtual memorial sites. Child Philos 10(20):421–443Google Scholar
  19. Kizel A (2015b) Philosophy with children, the poverty line, and socio-philosophic sensitivity. Child Philos 11(21):139–162Google Scholar
  20. Kohan WO (2014) Philosophy and childhood: critical perspectives and affirmative practices. Palgrave Macmillan, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Levy M, Kennedy C (2005) Learning Italian via mobile SMS. In: Kukulshka-Hulme A, Traxler J (eds) Mobile learning: a handbook for educators and trainers. Routledge, London, pp 76–83Google Scholar
  22. Lipman M (1988) Philosophy goes to school. Temple University Press, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  23. Lipman M (1991) Thinking in education. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  24. Lipman M, Sharp AM, Oscanyan FS (1980) Philosophy in the classroom. Temple University Press, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  25. Lu M (2008) Effectiveness of vocabulary learning via mobile phone. J Comput Assist Learn 24:515–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lyle S, Thomas-Williams J (2011) Dialogic practice in primary schools: how primary head teachers plan to embed philosophy for children into the whole school. Educ Stud 38(1):1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Matthews G (1984) Dialogues with children. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  28. Matthews G (1994) The philosophy of childhood. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  29. Mohr Lone J (2012a). Teaching pre-college philosophy: The cultivation of philosophical sensitivity. In Mohr Lone J, Israrloff R (eds) Philosophy and education: introducing philosophy to young people. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, pp 12–22Google Scholar
  30. Mohr Lone J (2012b) The philosophical child. Rowman & Littlefield, LanhamGoogle Scholar
  31. Morgan WJ, Guilherme A (2013) Buber and education: dialogue as conflict resolution. Routledge, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Murris K (2000) Can children do philosophy? J Philos Educ 34(2):261–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Murris K (2001) Are children natural philosophers? Teach Think 5:46–49Google Scholar
  34. Murris K (2008) Philosophy with Children, the stingray and the educative value of disequilibrium. J Philos Educ 42(3-4):667–685CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Olsen G (2004) Dialogue, phenomenology and ethical communication theory. Proceedings of the Durham-Bergen Postgraduate Philosophy Seminar, II, 13–26Google Scholar
  36. Sharp, A. (1988). What is a community of inquiry? In J. Portelli and W. Hare (eds) Philosophy and education. Detselig Enterprise, Calgary, pp 207–25Google Scholar
  37. Splitter L, Sharp AM (1995). Teaching for better thinking: The classroom community of enquiry. Acer, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  38. Stawarska B (2009) Between you and I: dialogical phenomenology. Ohio University Press, AthensCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Theunissen M (1984) The other: studies in the social ontology of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Buber. Trans. C. Macann. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  40. Trickey S, Topping KJ (2004) ‘Philosophy for children’: a systematic review. Res Pap Educ 19(3):365–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wartenberg TE (2009). Big ideas for little kids: Teaching philosophy through children’s literature. Rowman & Littlefield Education, LanhamGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Learning, Instruction and Teacher EducationUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

Personalised recommendations