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Response to Freiri

David White's picture

Reading Freiri's dialogue on dialogical learning and teaching, it made me think about a book I read last semeste, titled What the Best College Professors Do, by Ken Bains.  Bains did a study in which he looked at college professors who were being rated by their students as exceptional professors.  He wanted to know why students enjoyed certain professors and not others, and whether or not that would lead to grade increases.  What he found was that a majority of professors shared the same views as Freiri when it came to dialogical learning.  These professors saw their time with the students not as a chance for them to show off how knowledgeable they were in their given field, rather it was a chance for the two, the professor and the student, to engage in mutual learning of the same subject.  Bains said that many professors commented that every year they would learn something new from their students, either in their field of study, or somewhere else.

Personally I heavily believe that dialogical learning is one of the best and most student centered approaches to learning.  Yes as a (hypothetical) math professor I may know and understand what it takes to find the deritivative of something.  But what you (the student) and I (the teacher) are going to do is explore how you (the student) will come to understand how to find the derivative of an equation.  And through this process, I will understand a new, slightly different, way of thinking.  Even though I may scaffold the learning to help, dialogical learning is primarily a dialogue between the student and the teacher so that both can come to the same conclussion and both (but especially the student) feel that they had an important role in their own learning.  I see dialogical learning as a way to empower and motivate learners to engage in critical thinking of their own learning and engage in metacognition during, and outside the classroom.