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Argumentation and dialogic teaching: alternative pedagogies for a changing world Dr Sylvia Wolfe with Professor Robin J. Alexander December 2008 Abstract Studies of classroom communication indicate that certain patterns of interaction – exploratory talk, argumentation and dialogue – promote high-level thinking and intellectual development through their capacity to involve teachers and learners in joint acts of meaning-making and knowledge construction. Applied classroom research in the UK, such as Dawes, Mercer and Wegerif‟s (2000) Thinking Together project and Alexander‟s (2004) Dialogic Teaching, suggest that dialectical/dialogic pedagogies are beginning to make inroads into traditional patterns of classroom communication in which learners are positioned as compliant supporters of the teacher‟s purpose, their voices barely acknowledged. Yet experience shows that change is slow: patterns of interaction are tied to culture and history (Alexander, 2001) and deeply habituated in teachers‟ consciousnesses. Without deeper understanding of these issues and transformation of the conditions and contexts in which classroom interactions are embedded, it is difficult to see how change in discourses and practices might be sustained. Building on critical examination of evidence from research, this review explores both the possibilities and imperatives for change in education in the UK today. It draws attention to curricular developments, organisational restructuring and global imperatives for change, and considers the role of new technologies in these processes. „Digital tools‟ (Ravenscroft and McAlister, 2008) offer children opportunities to rehearse argumentation skills, and learn in less formal, more personal ways. These challenge not only the traditional emphasis on the value of „book-learning‟ but also the institutional organisation of learning itself. This review explores the implications of adopting dialogic pedagogies for understandings of knowledge and how it is disseminated to others. It suggests that teachers may need to reconfigure their roles in order to guide rather than control the processes of inquiry and knowledge production. Keywords: pedagogy, school, communication, argumentation, teaching 1

Argumentation and dialogic teaching - Alternative Pedagogies for a Changing World

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