Mini-Bakhtinian conference in education

Promises and Challenges of Dialogic Pedagogy

with James Cumming of Chaos Management LTD

School of Education, University of Delaware
March 26-April 2, 2011

Blog entries about the experience and our learnings:

  1. Is Dialogue Possible? posted 2 April 02012


We dream of a dialogic pedagogy practice that helps learners access and apply the total fabric of their multiple selves to the current situation and context when appropriate. In order to study how to do this, we would like to try actually doing dialogic pedagogy during the conference. Our focus is on learning about the impact of identity in heteroglossic interactions. Our project has three components:

1. Collecting and providing data on notable incidents of language use meaningful to our study by taking on the role of action researchers during the conference. The observations and data collection will focus on identifying challenging moments where identities surface as relevant in particular interactions.

2. Conducting a workshop (preferably in the middle of the conference) where the data we have gathered is analyzed by us and other conference participants in order to explore the transactional processes by which the social is collectively generated. Our workshop will be a setting for discovery and diagnosis of a potential shared chronotope of the conference membership. We will share two frameworks – Holvino’s simultaneity theory (2010) and Cumming & Holvino’s problematic moment approach (2003). We will take the lead in our role as action researchers and workshop attendees are invited to collaborate with us in a “fishbowl” type setting.

3. Contribute to a twitter stream (hashtag #bakhtin) and write a few blogposts in order to create a strand of meta-commentary about what conference participants are learning from and with each other while we are in the process of experiencing the conference together.

By bringing a backchannel into active use we immediately display the fact of heteroglossia and we can explore together, dialogically, what meanings, learnings and promises may be in the data. We will use Freire’s notion of dialogic pedagogy which involves developing the skills of recognizing and working with language as both a symbol of and a container for social realities (1970). In order to access the communicative resources embedded in their/our multiple social identities, learners need to:

  • Understand the impulse and resist the pressure to conform to one-dimensionality in our own and towards others’ identities. Amartya Sen calls this process “miniaturization” (2006). It refers to the ways in which we make our own and others’ complex and multiple identities singular and one-dimensional.
  • Become skillful at acknowledging and communicating our own matrix of identities as well as exploring and accepting others’ complex social identities.

Informed consent for participating in human subjects research will be provided to all conference participants.

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