Sunday, July 19, 2009

dialogue with the problem statement

After listening and reading the responses from my previous post this is my response:

Is the current effort to shift teacher practice in the 21st century informed by the realities of the life-world of teachers?

My own sense of reality I believe is called Metaphysical, because of this I would not think it appropriate to work from the traditional scientific method. I think that the way I sit in the world shapes the kinds of questions I put upon it. Like constructivists I believe we construct our own reality based on how we live, act and move in the world. However I also believe there is a reality that is unseen and unlived by me. I believe in more than I can see. Whether you call it God or not does not matter to me. My perspective stems from a Christian tradition. Reality is big and the world I live in has edges that I cannot get at. There is so much going on in our lives that we cannot attend to everything until something makes us look. So when I say that I want to awaken the reality of a teacher’s life-world, it means I want to help them see what they may or may not be paying attention to in their classrooms, and I believe this can be done through dialogue. I wish to engage in a conversation with teachers about how they see 21st Century learning happening in their classrooms. Perhaps through dialogue, we can then come to a share understanding of reality.
I believe I must also define what I mean by dialogue. My notion of dialogue is both hermeneutic and practical. Dialogue is something that happens when we share words. It is an event for understanding. It is a form of play. Bohm, Factor, and Garrett state, “Dialogue is concerned with providing a space within which such attention can be given. It allows a display of thought and meaning that makes possible a kind of collective proprioception or immediate mirroring back of both the content of thought and the less apparent, dynamic structures that govern it” (1991 ¶ 12).
Creating a Landscape
It is my thinking that I will approach the network of teachers that I currently know to see if anyone would be willing to dialogue with me over a school year at their convenience. I would also ask them if they knew of others. I wish to speak with teachers that feel they are giving 21st century learning a go. I do not feel I need test their practice with a criterion. It is enough for me that they see themselves as trying to teach this way. The knowledge gained from this is a ‘picture’ of knowledge. My point of viewing is not so much about the ‘picture’ that represents this phenomenon but also the philosophical frame I choose to place it in.

Bohm, D., Factor, D., & Garrett, P. (1991). Dialogue - a proposal. Retrieved August 4, 2006, from


  1. This description that you gave here really clarified for me what you are trying to answer. It is a topic that I hadn't thought of before. I think being in my own little world with a closed set professional learning community I thought most teachers were trying to move to a 21st century model.

    One questions though. You mention "It is enough for me that they see themselves as trying to teach this way." I was wondering if it might be helpful for you to get copies of their lesson plans and have them rate which ones they thought were moving towards 21 C education (on a sliding scale). You could compare their answers with a rubric you've developed (or found) that does a proper measurement. Measure the two scores against each other to see if the teacher's understandings of 21 C education is correct.


  2. Thank you so much Greg for taking the time to give me this feedback.

    I do believe I will use a survey for the teachers who agree to participate with me in this research just to see what sorts of things are going on in there classroom before I begin. Perhaps it could be a measure of shift from beginning to end but I am more interested in the process and the learning. I believe that through dialogue with me and the other teachers over a year period will give many opportunities for all of us all to learn something. The activity of dialogue could be a catalyst for shifting of practice further. However the main goal is for us to understand the truth of the life-world that these particular teachers live. It is a particular truth that sits inside of a universal. I don’t think there is really any other way of coming to this sort truth. If it is written well others reading my work will be able to have their own dialogue and find their own truth from what I report. In my search for literature on this topic I have found a great deal on the barriers for teachers in shifting their practice. I have also found lots on the benefits of dialogical learning but not much on using dialogue to learn how teacher use technology.