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Response to Shor and Freire!

jayah's picture

 Shor and Freire’s piece on dialogical method of teaching was a very different format than what I am used to reading. They were having a dialogue about dialogue! I enjoyed the unpacking of their conversation though. There were three points that were made that stood out to me the most. Two of those points, I found slightly controversial and I had to read and understand to clear my way of thinking up. The last point I totally agreed with.

            First, Ira states, “the right to have a small discussion begins as a class privilege.” At first, I found this point troubling. I thought, “Just because someone is in a lower class does not mean that he or she does not have the right to engage in a small discussion.” However, as I continued to read, I understood Ira to mean that the higher the status, the more likely they are to enroll their child in school with an intimate environment because they can afford to do so. In contrast, lower status people enroll their child in bigger schools, with more people in the classroom. As a result, it is harder for these teachers to gain control of the crowded classrooms, so they are more likely to resort to “monologue or teacher talk, in the transfer of knowledge approach” because it would be harder for the teacher to engage every single student in dialogue.

            Another point that stood out to me was Paulo’s take on dialogue. Where I initially viewed dialogue as simply a conversation between two or more people, Paulo made me reflect. In fact, he defined dialogue as being a reflection. He states, “through dialogue, reflecting together on what we know and don’t know, we can then act critically to transform reality.” I was not entirely sure what Paulo meant by “transform reality.” Does reality need to be transformed? Why can’t we just accept reality for what it is?

            Lastly, I feel that Paulo contradicts himself. In the beginning, he gives a scenario of a person opposing dialogical education stating, “For me, the role of the educator is to teach the educatee.” Paulo responds by saying, “okay, this is your position, authoritarian. Okay this is your understanding of epistemology, but this is not mine.” He seems to be calling the critique an authoritarian. He states that dialogical teaching implies the absence of authority. Later on, he states that “education is always directive.”  This is where I was troubled. When I think of authority, I think of someone giving directives, and Paulo does not seem find of this method of teaching in the beginning. Why the change? I question how a teacher can engage students in this dialogical method without giving directives. Is it bad to give directives according to Paulo and Ira? Shouldn’t there be a balance of both. Personally, I think that there should be some sort of balance and not all dialogical. After all, is it possible to teach math in this way? Or is the dialogical method supposed to be limited to certain subjects?