Dialogic teaching and moral learning: Self-critique, narrativity, community and "blind spots"

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Abstract

In the current climate of high-stakes testing and performance-based accountability measures, there is a pressing need to reconsider the nature of teaching and what capacities one must develop to be a good teacher. The Royal Society of Arts (2014) reports that pressures placed on teachers and schools to focus narrowly on academic attainment has limited teachers’ ability to address students’ social and moral learning. Similarly, educational policy experts around the world have pointed out that policies focused disproportionately on student test outcomes can promote teaching practices that are reified and mechanical, and which lead to students developing mere memorization skills, rather than critical thinking and conceptual understanding. Philosophers of dialogue and dialogic teaching offer a different view of teaching, one that counters mechanical, transmissive or “monologic” teaching.
In this paper, I seek to extend the notion of dialogic teaching as a method of supporting social and moral learning processes. Specifically, my focus is on answering the question: What capacities must a teacher have to engage students dialogically? Drawing on Paolo Freire and other contemporary philosophers, in section one, I examine dialogic interaction as involving a way of “being with learners” and put forth three teacher capacities necessary for dialogic teaching: self-critique, narrativity, and building community. In the second section, I examine further what is concretely entailed in the practice of dialogic teaching using research in educational psychology. I aim to highlight how dialogic teaching, unlike monologic teaching, involves the teacher’s active ability to support learners’ identification and exploration of their own blind spots — that is, the limits of knowledge and ability — and those of others. In the third section, I consider implications of my discussion for international policy on teacher assessment. I close the paper with considerations for future research on teacher capacity and teacher evaluation. This paper contributes to our understanding of teacher capacity and the nature and aims of good teaching.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Philosophy of Education
Early online date16 Jun 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

Keywords

  • dialogue
  • teaching
  • teacher capacity
  • teacher assessment
  • moral learning
  • Paolo Freire

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