What is Dialogic Pedagogy?
by Eugene Matusov, Professor of Education, University of Delaware
History: In November 2009, I visited Japan and met with Japanese education students at the Rikkyo University, Tokyo thanks to my colleague, Hiroaki Ishiguro. The Japanese students told me that they search the Internet in preparation for meeting with me and could not find info about “dialogic pedagogy”. This website is aimed to address this lack of Internet-available discussion. Of course, my efforts will never be completed and I’m sure I will change my mind on many issues discussed below.
Disclaimer: What and who is “Dialogic Pedagogy”?
In my view, the notion of “dialogic pedagogy” is in a public domain. I consider all scholars and practitioners who are attracted to and interested in “dialogic pedagogy” belonging to a field of “dialogic pedagogy.” Their positive bias of attraction to and their interest in “dialogic pedagogy” however they define it is enough for the affiliation. One, however, can ask whether the notion of “dialogic pedagogy” is empty or can be empty because those who are attracted to or interested in “dialogic pedagogy” might not have anything or much in common. For me, this very valid concern is not necessarily a problem by itself. A productive field of dialogic pedagogy does not need to be driven by a consensus among its scholars and practitioners or even by an overlap in their definitions of what dialogic pedagogy is for them. Rather their interest in what other people think, feel, and are excited about “dialogic pedagogy”; their desire to address those others, who are also interested in “dialogic pedagogy,” and their desire to reply to addresses of others is what glues dialogic educationalists together and defines their field. In other words, Dialogic Pedagogy is the participants’ discourse on “dialogic pedagogy” whatever the participants mean by this term at a given moment. Any can join the field of dialogic pedagogy, but the real test of this participation is to be taken seriously by other participants: current and/or future through their at times challenging addresses and serious replies to each other. The notions like “dialogue” and “dialogic pedagogy” are essentially contested (Gallie, 1956), polysemic (Matusov, 2009), and communal. “Dialogue” might mean any social interaction or a special orientation to another person of respect to his or her agency. I personally do not agree with aspects and/or versions of dialogic pedagogy promoted by Socrates (Plato & Bluck, 1961), Freire (1986), Paley (1992), Bibler (2009), Burbules (1993), Lakatos (1981), Berlyand (2009), and Adler (1982), but I consider all of these scholars and practitioners as important members of the field of dialogic pedagogy that strongly contribute to my scholarship and vision of dialogic pedagogy (Matusov, 2009). I view these scholars with whom I disagree as my collaborators although we often collaborate through disagreements (but not only). Thus, affiliation in the field of dialogic pedagogy is through participation in a discourse about it rather than an acceptance of and commitment to any particular definition of the concept of “(genuine) dialogue” or “dialogic pedagogy.” In my view, this discursive approach helps to avoid the two major monological pitfalls, warned by Bakhtin (1999), of 1) oppressive orthodoxy of The One Grand Truth about what is the genuine dialogue and dialogic pedagogy or 2) disengaging relativism of personal opinionship. My particular, limited, and partial views on dialogic pedagogy presented here – what I called “(non-instrumental) ontological dialogic pedagogy”, — is my other bid for participation in this discourse on dialogic pedagogy and it should be treated as such (rather than the notion of dialogic pedagogy).
Note: I mark in green a constructive voice of another challenging my position and, thus, contributing to my scholarship. I think that bringing and marking this voice helps me articulate my ideas.
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