Moving from collaboration to critical dialogue in action in education

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Eugene Matusov
Lucinda Pease-Alvarez


The purpose of this article is to examine and conceptualize our pedagogical and organizational experiences and understandings of how undergraduates and instructors participating in the UC-Links Project from Fall 1996 to Spring 1997 learned together through their engagements in undergraduate courses and afterschool activities with predominantly Mexican-descent children at a local community center. We had started our project privileging collaboration and collaborative guidance as the way to approach our collective engagements; however, the events in the project pushed us to reconsider our practice. It took us 25 years to completely understand that what we have come to call “critical dialoguing in action” is how we now conceive of innovative organizational and pedagogical practice, which stands in contrast to the pedagogical and organizational notion of collaboration. We describe the efforts and struggles participants, including ourselves, encountered developing, implementing, and communicating about innovative teaching approaches and practices that we originally thought aimed to promote meaningful and collaborative learning. We call particular attention to dilemmas participants faced dialoguing about the dynamic teaching/learning processes that emerged in our project. These experiences prompted us to characterize our vision for participants’ involvement in the project as “critical dialoguing in action,” which contributed to our ongoing analysis and understanding of emerging dilemmas in our work.

Article Details

Author Biographies

Eugene Matusov, University of Delaware

Eugene Matusov is a Professor of Education at the University of Delaware. He studied developmental psychology with Soviet researchers working in the Vygotskian paradigm and worked as a schoolteacher before immigrating to the United States. He uses sociocultural and Bakhtinian dialogic approaches to education. His recent books are: Matusov, E. (2017). Nikolai N. Konstantinov’s authorial math pedagogy for people with wings, Matusov, E. & Brobst, J. (2013). Radical experiment in dialogic pedagogy in higher education and its Centauric failure: Chronotopic analysis, and Matusov, E. (2009). Journey into dialogic pedagogy.

Lucinda Pease-Alvarez, University of California Santa Cruz

Lucinda Pease-Alvarez is professor emerita of education at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she also directed the teacher education program. Her research focuses on the meaning making practices of multilingual children and the development of pedagogical perspectives that build on the resources that these children and their families bring to schools and classrooms. She is also engaged in research examining how teachers of immigrant students are responding to and negotiating educational policy. Her scholarship in teacher education is focused on investigating how prospective teachers’ experiences with language minority children and their families outside of school informs their pedagogies. She is a co-author of Pushing Boundaries: Language and Culture in a Mexicano Community (Cambridge University Press) and Teachers of English Learners Negotiating Authoritarian Policies (Springer) and co-editor of Learning, Teaching, and Community: Contributions of Situated and Participatory Approaches to Educational Innovation (Lawrence Erlbaum).


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