Leading a Classroom Discussion

Fostering Dialogue and Active
Participation in the University
Dr. Sarah Twomey
Curriculum Studies,
College of Education, University of
Outline of Talk
 Introductions
 Rationale
 Barriers/Challenges to Dialogue
 Questions/Discussion
 Education as a social process that
allows free dialogue and sharing of
experience as a cornerstone of
democracy. (Dewey, 1916)
“Such a society must have a type of education which
gives individuals a personal interest in social
relationships and control, and the habits of mind
which secure social changes without introducing
Critical Pedagogy
 Student as “silent observer”
 “Banking” concept of education
 “Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which
the students are the depositories and the teacher is the
depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues
communiques and makes deposits which the students
patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the
"banking' concept of education, in which the scope of
action allowed to the students extends only as far as
receiving, filing, and storing the deposits.” (Freire, 1993)
Learning Through Dialogue
 “Knowledge emerges only through
invention and re-invention, through the
restless, impatient continuing, hopeful
inquiry human beings pursue in the
world, with the world, and with each
other.” (Freire, 1993)
Feminist Pedagogy
 “We are all subjects in history. We must
return ourselves to a state of
embodiment in order to deconstruct the
way power has been traditionally
orchestrated in the classroom, denying
subjectivity to some groups and
according it to others.” (hooks, 1994)
Instructor Role
 How to establish classroom settings
where silenced voices can be heard
into speech by people committed to
serious listening? (Palmer, 1990)
Setting Expectations
As students who already have an undergradua te degree, you should feel comfortable
debating ideasΡ whether they are your ideas or the ideas of others. However, respectful
discourse is essential in this class. Ideas, not people, are open to challenge. Here are
some basic guidelines for class participation:
Show respect for othersΥfeelings and points of view.
Try to understand points of view that are diff erent from your own.
Demonstrate that you understand a point of view before challenging it.
Risk exposing your own uncertainty or tentative understanding of an issue.
Be supportive of others when they are trying out new ideas.
Listen and provide space for others to participate.
Make Connections
 Structuring ways for students to get to
know each other.
Name origins
Pair and Share
Partner journals
Reader responses
Group Assignments
 Build this into your curriculum
 Make it part of your grading system
Inquiry Projects
Facilitating ‘Community’
 Setting Expectations
 Providing Opportunities for Leadership
 Knowing your Students
 Differentiating your instruction
Knowing Your Students
 Recognizing cultural differences.
 Giving students choice.
 Modifying yourself.
 Providing rehearsal strategies for
Free writes
Reader response column
 Cultural, social, and linguistic
 Finding a comfortable authority.
 Dominant voices.
 Silence.
 What makes a person a political being, is
their faculty of action; it enables one to get
together with peers, to act in concert, and
to reach out for goals and enterprises that
would never enter one’s mind, let alone the
desires of the heart. (Hannah Arendt,
 As a classroom community, our capacity to
generate excitement is deeply affected by
our interest in one another, in hearing one
another’s voices, in recognizing one
another’s presence. bell hooks (1994)
 Listening is one way of finding how to get
to the new place where we can all live and
speak to each other for more than a fragile
moment. Minnie Bruce Pratt (1984)