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A Study On Dialogue And Learning Education Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 3996 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Dialogue has been recognized as the most notable example of Western literature by Plato since 428/427 BC – 348/347 BC;. In Greek and Indian literature, particularly the ancient art of rhetoric, it is historically origins as narrative, philosophical or educational device. The dialogue has been used to teach a range of subjects, including philosophy, logic, rhetoric, and mathematics. Dialogue (the Greek DIA for through and logos for word) can be defined to include numerous communicative acts includes conversation, talk, communication, interchange, discourse, argument, chat, gossip, colloquy, as well as discussion, debate, exchange of views, head-to-head, consultation, conference, meeting, interview, question and answer session, and negotiations (New Oxford Thesaurus of English 2000).

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Dialogic learning can occur in any educational situation and contains an important potential for social transformation. [2] Various contributions to Dialogic learning has been developed on many perspectives and disciplines such as, P. Freire, 1970 on the theory of Dialogic action, G. Wells, 1999 looking for the Dialogic inquiry approach, J. Habermas, 1984 with the theory of communicative action, M. Bakhtin, 1981, the notion of Dialogic imagination, and Soler, 2004, the dialogical self. Among those, there are many more contemporary authors on Dialogic conceptions, J. Mezirow, 1990, 1991, 2000 transformative learning theory, M. Fielding 2001, students as radical agents of change, T. Koschmann, 1999 emphasizes the potential advantages of adopting dialogicality as the basis of education, Anne C. Hargrave, 2000 shows that children in Dialogic-learning in vocabulary. Specifically, the concept of Dialogic learning (Flecha, 2000) [3] evolved from the investigation and observation of how people learn both outside and inside of schools, when acting and learning freely is allowed.

The theory

The concept of Dialogic learning is not new. In the book Mind and Society, 1962, Vygotsky argued that children learn how to use planning function of their language effectively and their psychological field changes fundamentally. He argued that a child begins to master his surroundings with the help of speech prior to mastering his own behavior. He claimed that the creation of these unique human forms of behavior which eventually produced the intellectual productive work with the use of tools. This was described in his observations of children in an experimental situation showed that children not only act in attempting to achieve a goal but also speak. This speech arose spontaneously and continued almost without interruption throughout the experiment. He claimed that it seems that both natural and necessary for children to speak while they act. Respectively, Vygotsky drew the same kind of distinction between the ‘spontaneous’ concept of everyday learning and the ‘scientific’ concept of the classroom. [4] Vygotsky, 1962 argues that the inception of a spontaneous concept can usually be traced to a face-to-face meeting with a concrete situation, while a scientific concept involves from the first a ‘mediated’ attitude towards it object.

Paulo Reglus Neves Freire (1921-1997), 1970 theory of Dialogic action 1921 -1997 was a Brazilian educator and influential theorist of critical pedagogy. [5] He was an educationist known for developing popular education; he puts dialogue as a type of pedagogy. [6] Freire argued that dialogue as a means of democratizing education (Freire 1972, 1999). Dialogue communication allowed students and teachers to learn from one another in an environment characterized by respect and equality. He advocates himself to support suppressed people with their performance or application of skills that is informed and linked to their values, by performing and applying their skills in order to make pedagogy for a more deepening understanding and making positive changes to them. He states that human nature is Dialogic, and he believes that communication has a leading role in people’s life. Dialogue is a claim in favor of the democratic choice of educators and learners. The goal of the Dialogic action is always to reveal the truth interacting with others and the world. He claimed that we are continually in dialogue with others and it is in that process that we create and recreate ourselves. Besides, in order to promote free and critical learning, he insists that we should create the conditions for dialogue that encourages the epistemological curiosity of the learner.

The Russian philosopher, literary critic, semiotician and scholar who worked on literary theory, ethics, and the philosophy of language, Mikhail M. Bakhtin, 1981, distinguishes the notion of Dialogic imagination. He has theorized dialogue in emphasizing the power of discourse to increase understanding of multiple perspectives and create myriad possibilities. [7] Bakhtin argued that dialogue creates a new understanding of a situation that demands change as relationships and connections exist among all living beings. [8] His concept of dialogism states a relation between language, interaction, and social transformation. Holquist, 1990 described Bakhtin’s writings on dialogicality are profound and represent a substantive shift from prevailing views on the nature of language and knowledge [9] . Bakhtin established that there is a need of creating meanings in a Dialogic way with other people. [10] He believed that individual does not exist outside dialogue. The concept of dialogue itself establishes the existence of the “other” person. It is through dialogue that the “other” cannot be silenced or excluded. Bakhtin claimed that meanings are created in the processes of reflection between people. He describes, we use the same meanings later in conversations with others, where those meanings get better and even change as we obtain new meanings. Therefore, when we talk, we learn something. In this sense, every time that we talk about something that we have read about, seen or felt; we are actually reflecting the dialogues we have had with others, showing the meanings that we have created in the previous dialogues with others. That said, dialogue cannot be separated from the perspectives of others: learning derives from here with the individual speech and the collective one is deeply related to one’s life. Bakhtin asserts that talks is a chain of dialogues, he points that every dialogue results from a previous one and, at the same time, every new dialogue are going to be presented in future ones.

Fitz Simons, G. (1994) [11] the “learning communities”, an educational project which seeks social and cultural transformation of educational centers and their surroundings through Dialogic learning, emphasizing egalitarian dialogue among all community members, including teaching staff, students, families, entities, and volunteers. Fitz Simons points out:

“The need to establish an atmosphere of mutual respect and a feeling of community in which adult learners are encouraged to be independent learners and to share their expertise”

(p. 24-25, 1994)

Dialogic Learning

Fletcher, 2000 looks at the concept of Dialogic learning evolved from the investigation and observation of how people learn both outside and inside of schools, when learning and acting freely is allowed. She describes open dialogue which derived from the perspective of Freire, 1997 involvement of all members of the community the learning communities as research shows that learning process take place in different spaces of the learners’ life regardless of the learners’ age, and including the teaching staff, depend more on the coordination among all the interactions and activities. The recognition and respect of different types of knowledge raise the awareness that each person has something to share, something different and equally important. Therefore, the wider the diversity of voices engaged in open dialogue, the better the knowledge that can be dialogically constructed. Fletcha puts as…

“[Dialogic learning] lead to the transformation of education centers into learning communities where all the people and groups involved enter into relationships with each other. In this way, the environment is transformed, creating new cognitive development and greater social and educational equality.”

(p. 24)

Edward and Mercer, 1987 emphasize that the ‘dialogue’ concept is ‘ground rules of conversation’ because it operates as implicit sets of rules for behaving in particular kinds of situation which participants usually take for granted [12] . (Edward and Mercer, 1987) In 2007, Mercer and Littleton’s argues that ‘talk’ is not just the mediating means for supporting individual development, but rather that ways of thinking are embedded in ways of using language. This ‘talk’ is more emphasized on as a valuable, social mode of thinking, not just learning. They argue that learners engage and interact with others may have a profound and enduring impact on their skill and intellectual development. [13] They further argue that ‘learning’ and ‘development’ are two terms that related and have both been used in a great deal. Learning is often in the company of ‘teaching’. These two words are required to call upon the kinds of cognitive and intellectual changes in children’s learning. He asserts that ‘learning’ is normally associated with the gaining of knowledge and the acquisition of some fact or skill. It invokes ideas of some sort of growth, the emergence of a new entity and the arrival of a new state of affairs. A contributor to Mercer and Littleton, Chris Watkins, 2003 (A scholar in education and learning) has distinguished three influential conceptions of learning: Learning is being taught, learning is the individual sense making, learning is building knowledge with others. [14] 

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Harry Daniel 2001 claims that classroom talk or dialogue mediates not just teaching and learning but also the wider culture. [15] He claims that humans are seen as creatures who have a unique capacity for communication and whose lives are normally led within groups, communities and societies based on shared ways of using language, ways of thinking, social practices and tools for getting things done. Daniels emphasizes that such talk, must not be regarded as simple ‘interaction’, but narrowly regarded and bounded by the immediacy of the learning task in hand.

Similarly, the Dialogic inquiry approach by Gordon Wells, 1999 [16] , Wells argues that classroom dialogue has been proposed as a method of introducing critical education (Wells 1999, Alrø & Skovsmose 2002) “Dialogic inquiry” is an educational approach that acknowledges the dialectic relationship between the individual and the society, and an attitude for acquiring knowledge through communicative interactions. Wells points out that the predisposition for “Dialogic inquiry” depends on the characteristics of the learning environments, and that is why it is important to reorganize them into contexts for collaborative action and interaction. Wells defines “inquiry” not as a method but as a predisposition for questioning, trying to understand situations collaborating with others with the objective of finding answers. Wells further argues that Dialogic inquiry not only enriches individuals’ knowledge but also transforms it, ensuring the survival of different cultures and their capacity to transform themselves according to the requirements of every social moment. Wells claims that Dialogic inquiry not only enriches individuals’ knowledge but also transforms it, ensuring the survival of different cultures and their capacity to transform themselves according to the requirements of every social moment.

Education is seen as a Dialogic process, with students and teachers working together within settings that reflect the values and social practices of schools as cultural institutions. Alrø & Skovsmose, 2002 relate dialogue to the learning process by attribute three essential properties to the notion of dialogue; making an inquiry, running a risk and maintaining equality. [17] These essential properties must be characteristic of the scene of interaction in order for a “learning” dialogue to occur. Making an inquiry means learner exploring what he does not yet know and sharing the desire to gain new experiences. For an inquiry to be Dialogic it must be open to participants bringing their own perspectives rooted in their backgrounds into the inquiry. Learners must also be willing to suspend their own perspectives in order to consider the perspectives of others and in articulating these perspectives new and more insightful perspectives might come into view. For that reason, Dialogic is running a risk in the ambiguity and uncertainty of the dialogue process. Learners to a dialogue propose other people’s perspectives, however navigating in a landscape of investigation means that there are no pre-established answers to up-and-coming questions. Therefore “dialogue includes risk-taking both in an epistemological and an emotional sense”. In other words learners to a dialogue will be challenged on their knowledge as well as their emotions. In order for participants to remain in the Dialogic process it must be ensured that the uncertainty never appears too uncomfortable. They claim that dialogue could then maintain equality by suggesting that learners are engaged at a level of parity. Parity in this sense does not equal sameness but rather fairness. Learners may enter the dialogue in different capacities and being equal thus comes to depend on the ability of learners to embrace and accept diversity (Alrø & Skovsmose, 2002).

After years of research conducted in several countries; India, USA, France, Italy and England with a team of researchers, Robin Alexander 2004 [18] has put talk as the prominent element for effective thinking and learning requirement for children. He has distinguished talk for a distinctive pedagogical approach called ‘Dialogic teaching’. He argues that language and thought are intimately related, and the extent and manner of children’s cognitive development depend to a considerable degree on the forms and contexts of language which they have encountered and used. This new approach demands both pupil engagement and teacher intervention by which pupils actively engage and teachers constructively intervene is through talk.

Dialogue and Higher level of Education

For higher educational level, Diana Laurillard, 2002 puts a Dialogic learning framework as ‘Conversational Framework’. This framework supports various media forms such as narrative, interactive, adaptive, communicative and productive. The idea of a conversational framework, is used to define the learning process for higher education and then to interpret the extent to which new technology can support and enhance high level conceptual learning. She describes that learning must be discursive and the teacher should be associating teaching and learning process with the world. Laurillard asserts that learning technologies must achieve their full potential for transforming learning experience. Laurillard argues that the academics; Universities, Institutions, colleges, schools etc. Should begin with an understanding of how students learn, and they should design and use the Conversational Framework and the learning technologies from this standpoint to familiarize a better learning strategy for university teaching. Laurillard’s idea is hardly new as she quoted Paul Ramsden’s statement that teaching is a sort of conversation. Respectively, Kolb’s ‘learning cycle’ (Kolb, 1984) states that learning occurs through an iterative cycle of experience followed by feedback, then reflected on to be used as revised action [19] . Gordon Pask, 1976 formalized the idea of learning as a conversation in conversation theory. This theory lays out the separation of ‘description’ and ‘model-building behaviors, and the definition of understanding as ‘determined by two levels of agreement’ (Ibid. 22) [20] . This describes the characteristic of the teaching – learning process is iterative ‘conversation’.

Besides classroom education, dialogue education is described as an approach to adult education by educator, Jane Vella in the 1980’s. This approach to education draws on various adult learning theories, including those of Paulo Freire, Kurt Lewin, Malcolm Knowles and Benjamin Bloom (Global Learning Partners, 2006b; Vella, 2004). It is a synthesis of these abstract theories into principles and practices that can be applied in a concrete way to learning design and facilitation. Dialogue education is a form of Constructivism and can be a means for Transformative learning, (Vella, 2004). Dialogue education shifts the focus of education from what the teacher says to what the learner does, from learner passivity to learners as active participants in the dialogue that leads to learning (Global Learning Partners, 2006c). A dialogue approach to education views learners as subjects in their own learning and honors central principles such as mutual respect and open communication (Vella, 2002). Learners are invited to actively engage with the content being learned rather than being dependent on the educator for learning. Ideas are presented to learners as open questions to be reflected on and integrated into the learner’s own context (Vella, 2004). The intent is that this will result in more meaningful learning.


Significantly dialogue and learning are two terms that can’t stand by its own without the other’s presence. It is now that the responsibility of this study to examine dialogue and learning to a further course of current new media mobile technology. How does children making use of mobile devices in the world of mobile technology in this transformation age of environment? How does learning then develop from these technologies? Why does a child today communicate so much with technology? That said my hypothesis that the new media mobile technology has potential in facilitating the process of children’s learning development. Do these technologies provide learning tools which are able to provide significant knowledge development? Besides, Vygotsky and Vygotskian theory claimed that the learning tools are some kind of children’s higher psychological functions of making his or her interactions to their social and moral development. As we all knew, these dialogues are being created, learned and used by our children tremendously without our awareness day to day in their world of communications in interactive mobile technologies. These dialogues and learning are integrated with their handheld gadgets, computers and software, learning materials, playing the games in the virtual world. With the existence of other features; design, audio and video, photography, colors, fonts, information, and programming language navigating them throughout the lessons and programs. Our children or learners and members jointly produce Dialogic knowledge and participate in the definition of actions that lead to social and educational change. Therefore, this research sees dialogue and learning associates to the notion of Bakhtin dialogicality as dialogue represents this senses where it mediates the new media that our children to listen and watch.

These dialogues can take numerous other forms such as: less structured, more informal and more participatory than interviews or discussion groups, e.g. By encouraging participants to set the agenda for discussion and for the researcher to take an active role in the discussion rather than only the role as a listener. This approach will grant participants to the dialogue a sense of equality and the freedom to bring into the dialogue whichever topic they deem relevant. Inviting research participants in the interpretation process simultaneously embrace a Dialogic epistemology recognizing the value of negotiating, reflecting and interpreting with the goal of mutual understanding and relationship building. Therefore, in this study we need to narrow our understanding of dialogue and address the question of the contribution of dialogue in the interactive mobile technologies in the children’s psychological learning development. In the learning communities, it is fundamentally the involvement of all members of the community because, as research shows, learning processes, regardless of the learners’ age, and including the teaching staff, depend more on the coordination among all the interactions and activities that take place in different spaces of the learners’ life, like school, home, and workplace, then only on interactions and activities developed in spaces of formal learning, such as classrooms. Along these lines, the “learning communities” project aims at multiplying learning contexts and interactions with the objective of all participants reaching higher levels of development (Vygotsky, 1978) [21] .


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