Constructing learning communities through Dialogical Methods
"…language is the main tool that promotes thinking, develops reasoning, and supports cultural activities like reading and writing" (VYGOTSKY, 1978)
As teachers we must help students to develop their critical thinking skills, thus it is important to create opportunities for that. Teachers cannot simply “pass the knowledge” by lecturing only as if he owns “the box of knowledge”. Lecturing in a classroom may be efficient when it is combined with a variety of teaching strategies.
Socratic questions might be used in classroom as a means of creating this challenging learning atmosphere. Thoughts, ideas are discussed in a distributive way of learning and teaching. The process becomes democratic and no-one possesses the “box of knowledge”, instead it is cooperatively built.
The teacher must be aware of the lesson outcomes and, of course, how to use Socratic questioning appropriately. Questioning must never be used as a way to punish or embarrass students but as a way of instigating the pursuit of knowledge.
- Use of conceptual clarification question
- Probing assumptions
- Probing rationale, reasons and evidence
- Questioning viewpoints and perspectives
- Probe implications and consequences
- Questions about the question
Questions, questions, questions…
- What kind of strategies can we use to develop high thinking skills?
- Have we been giving students clear instructions?
- Have we been making information too difficult to understand?
- Have we been able to listen to our students carefully and considerably?
- Have we been using questions to instigate and build knowledge?
- Have we been using intelligent questions which require thoughtful answers?
- As teachers, do we know how to be humble in a classroom?
A dialogic attitude is a state of mind. Working in a dialogical approach means to be open to transformation and to collective construction. It comprehends a lot of traits such as: empathy, kindness, reciprocity, honesty, trust, participation, respect, engagement etc.
- Body language plays an essential role in a dialogue.
- For more information on Dialogical Method click on www.hamk.fi/diale
Here is an excerpt which best explains the relevance and effectiveness of methods which empower critical thinking skills through the use of a dialogical learning approach/ Socratic questioning:
Through dialogue, the teacher-of-the-students and the students-of-the-teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges: teacher-student with students-teachers. The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. They become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow. In this process, arguments based on "authority" are no longer valid; in order to function authority must be on the side of freedom, not against it. Here, no one teaches another, nor is anyone self-taught. People teach each other, mediated by the world, by the cognizable objects which in banking education are "owned" by the teacher (1993, p.61)
PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED by Paulo Freire. New York: Continuum Books, 1993 – available at: http://www2.webster.edu/~corbetre/philosophy/education/freire/freire-2.html Acessed on Feb 2015).
Teachers play a fundamental role as a facilitador for communication and interaction in a classroom.They can they can foster knowledge construction by building active learning communities through the use of socratic peer discussions and dialogical methods.