Theoretical Promises and Methodological Troubles Capturing Dialogical Discourse in Classroom Research

Main Article Content

Christian George Gregory

Abstract

A review of Skidmore, D & K. Murakami (Eds). (2016). Dialogic pedagogy: The importance of dialogue in teaching and learning. Bristol, United Kingdom: Multilingual Matters

Skidmore and Murakami’s collection of essays takes on a dual theoretical and empirical project: first, to define and advocate for dialogical classroom pedagogy; and second, to unearth such practice through microstudies of classroom dialogue. This project divides itself neatly in half: the first six chapters trace the theory of dialogic pedagogy, including the history of discourse, coding, and practices, while the remaining seven are devoted to empirical studies marked by a careful microanalysis of dialogue.

The work distinguishes itself from scholarship on the dialogical the past 20 years, during which works have either been single-authored, deeply-researched, and theoretical (Matusov, 2009a; Wegerif, 2013) or vast collections of essays organized conceptually (Ball & Freedman, 2004; White & Peters, 2011; Ligorio & Cesar, 2013). While special journal editions have brought new focus to unexplored threads of the dialogical, such as the exploration of silence in the classroom or the history of the School of the Dialogue of Cultures (Matusov 2009b), this collection affords considerable latitude to its theoretical and historical frame. A comparable work of conceptual breadth is that of White (2016), whose publication frames classroom research of lower school learners with concepts from Bakhtin. Like White’s work, Skidmore and Murakami paint at once in broad strokes and miniature: on the one hand, the collection situates dialogical pedagogy into its historical context, interweaving the work of early Russian theorists; at the same time, it offers granular studies of classroom dialogue. Since Skidmore authors or co-authors seven of the 13 chapters, the collection somewhat serves as a project of singular intent, one that raises a persistent question as to whether the methodologies in the studies presented in the second half of the work, focused on Conversational Analysis (CA) and the Discourse Analysis (DA), cohere to the ambitions of dialogical pedagogy offered in the first. In the end, the promise that CA affords greater magnification of classroom moments does not overcome what may be a limitation of the methodology to unearth dialogic pedagogy.

Article Details

Section
Reviews
Author Biography

Christian George Gregory, Saint Anselm College

Christian George Gregory is currently an Assistant Professor of Education at Saint Anselm College and formerly a Lecturer at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D. in English Education. He holds two advanced degrees in literature from the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College and has written for varied journals, such as QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, and the Journal of LGBTQ Youth, where he serves on the Editorial Board. His research interests include classroom discourse, identity theory, queer theory and pedagogy, Young Adult literature, and expanding the canon in English education.

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