Rupert Wegerif University of Exeter. Dialogic Education and Technology: expanding the space of learning. Dialogic Education and Technology: Expanding the Space of Learning. Society. Technology. Pedagogical theory. Dialogic. Two metaphors of space.
University of Exeter
Dialogic Education and Technology:
expanding the space of learning
Dialogic Education and Technology:
Expanding the Space of Learning
For Aristotle everything has one proper place: a thing cannot be in two places and and two things can not occupy one place. Ergo: A=A & A ≠ B.
But into what ‘space’ is the internet expanding?
Where is the ‘proper place’ of my web page?
The expansion of ‘cyberspace’ challenges the principle of identity – so what do we put in its place?
But what is the unthought in this picture?
Meaning starts with the act of drawing a boundary -differentiating Figure from Ground (a relation – 2 perspectives)
The precondition of meaning – a projected ‘infinite potential’ for meaning
Je suis un autre (Rimbaud)
(A ≠ A & A = All )
Identity as always open and overflowing towards the other
[Hegel’s dialectic begins with Being (the Whole) and moves through differences to a more complex and internally integrated Being (the Absolute Notion). Hence identity is assumed and we are dealing with difference within identity. Dialectical conflicts end in synthesis - teleological
Dialogic begins with difference and never escapes difference. The system is unbounded – there is no Being – not even Abgrund - only difference]
‘The ancient Greeks did not know the most important thing about themselves: that they were “ancient Greeks”’ Bakhtin
‘Situatedness’ is a construction implying its other – all we have is difference within an absent whole
So how can we understand this?
Easy – switch the founding metaphor from space to dialogue
Meaning ‘is like an electric spark that occurs only when two different terminals are hooked together’ (Volosinov).
The dialogic principle
Dialogic = holding more than one incomensurately different perspective together in tension at once.
Monologic: metaphor of physical space
Dialogic: metaphor of dialogue
Dialogos = reason (logos) through and across (dia) difference.
Dialogic space is shared meaning space characterised by lack of certainty and an inescapable multiplicity of perspectives
…. i.e. the space into which the internet expands while at the same tie constructing that space
Hobson argues that an individual sense of self-awareness and an ability to think creatively are intgernalized from the creative interanimation of perspectives that occurs in dialogues between Mother and child (Hobson, 1998). These dialogues, beginning with peek-a-boo games in the cradle, open up what he calls ‘mental space’, a space of possibilities through which things become thinkable for the first time.
Through studies of apes and humans Tomasello claims that consciousness originates in:
“a species-unique motivation to share emotions, experience, and activities with other persons”
Which he refers to as ‘dialogic’ and claims is more fundamental than language or tool use.
Tomasello et al 2004
(See Wegerif, Mercer and Dawes, 1999, ‘From Social Interaction to Individual Reasoning’)
The beauty of the experimental design was that it enabled not only quantitative correlations but also qualitative analysis of the talk of children solving reasoning tests.
So how did they do it? We argued that they did it by ‘using language as a tool for thinking’ but in the end I found this unconvincing …
The tools worked by creating a dialogic space in which new perspectives emerged uncaused
When researching groups of children solving reasoning test problems together it was found that the key to success was the children learning to listen and to change their minds. This suggests a movement into dialogue – towards identification with the space of dialogue or dialogue as an end in itself.
Takes Vygotsky further by looking not only at the ‘internalisation’ of tools but the ‘internalisation’ of dialogic space.
It is education for dialogue as well as education through dialogue.
Teaching thinking is induction into dialogue as an end in itself.
Dialogue as an end in itself is the primary thinking skill from which other skills follow such as:
e.g formal logic, cognitive structures
e.g abacus use
(Cole and Derry, 2005)
e.g Bakhtin, Dewey, Lipman
‘The transactional … It excludes assertions of fixity and attempts to impose them. It installs openness and flexibility in the very process of knowing. It treats knowl- edge as itself inquiry—as a goal within inquiry, not as a terminus outside or beyond inquiry’. Dewey and Bentley 1947, p 97
BACK TO DEWEY
Unsituated Central Processor
Situated social practices
Forms of life
‘An active persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusion to which it tends’. (Dewey, 1910)
I would augment this with an idea of the creative space of emergence that opens up in a dialogue, a space which can be more or less dialogic, more or less open to the other and to the new (Wegerif, 2005, Reason and Creativity in Classroom Dialogues)
‘Perhaps the greatest of all pedagogical fallacies is the notion that a person learns only the particular thing he is studying. Collateral learning in the way of formation of enduring attitudes, of likes and dislikes may be and often is much more important than the spelling lesson or lesson in geography or history that is learned. The most important attitude that can be formed is the desire to go on learning’. (Dewey 1938, p29).
‘careful, alert, and thorough habits of thinking’. (Dewey 1933 p56).
Dewey’s focus on the boundary led him to see thinking as transactive inquiry. This stimulates a dialogic theoretical framework for the practical business of teaching thinking: learning to think as a trajectory of identity towards identification with the reflective space of dialogue supported by environments, habits and skills.
Implications for practice
Promote pauses not just explicit reasoning
Augment focus on talking with focus on active listening
Augment construction of knowledge with deconstruction of knowledge
Maintain awareness of context, situatedness limitedness which is the awareness of the unbounded potential
Development into dialogue is a kind of oxymoron – but an illuminating one.
It is learning as a trajectory of identity but also a trajectory away from identification with things (self, group etc) and towards identification with non-identity – ie with the multiple and uncertain space of dialogue.
(Sunday 21 Dec. 1817 Hampstead.)
Not direct mediation of cognition as in the idea of ‘mindtools’ but opening, deepening, widening, resourcing a space
e.g words and ground rules to open space of reflection, also to abstract, consolidate and build on
E.G Ong – face to face dialogue limited in space and time - writing and social practices around reading and writing lead to the development of an inner space of reflection – now with Blogs and Vlogs does this inner space of possibility become a shared space?
Quality of thinking is seen in move from dialogue with specific others to dialogue with the general Other – the Superaddressee or witness
[tools as voices – not voices as tools]
Contains recent papers and draft chapters of Dialogic Education and Technology