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Response to Shor & Freire

marian.bechtel's picture

I really enjoyed reading Shor & Freire's discussion of the "Dialogical Method" of teaching. As a scientist interested in environmental education who has always struggled with traditional lecture learning styles, I have grappled with similar questions of how to teach subjects, especially hard science that is not seen as "needing discussion," through more interactive, dialogue-friendly techniques. I especially appreciated Freire's example of his friend's physics course, and how he begins by situating the subject matter within concrete materials gathered by the students around their lives. Grounding subjects like science in materials that relate directly to the students, I believe, can be a very effective method of teaching, by truly engaging the students and giving them some liberty to shape the instruction/direction of the course. It is a way of drawing lines between what often appears to be high falutin, abstract, irrelevant knowledge and the self. I have spent a lot of time in another class this semester (Ecological Imaginings) thinking about teaching environmental/ecological education through the lens of identity, and I think dialogue plays an important role in that. Also important is this idea of the teacher relearning material and looking at the same material in new ways, based on the students' reactions and approaches to it. I have had experiences just like this, where I have informally taught young kids about various math/science topics, and they always seem to ask questions that I would never thought of, or understand the material in new ways, and both of us come out the other side having grown in our knowledge and understanding.