I thought you’d never become one of us

Main Article Content

Charles Bisley


In this paper, I describe a collaborative process in which  a class of grade 6&7 students made and performed two plays, and also transformed their learning. In this process, a reconfiguring of the spaces of learning,  the students and I adapted a variety of literacy and drama practices; a key change in practice was the shift away from an instrumental mode of dialogue in which the teacher occupies the superior position of knower and evaluator, towards a Bakhtinian mode in which dialogue, as heteroglossic, moves between all the participants, and becomes the main purpose of learning. In a dynamic combination of linguistic, theatrical, and relational meaning making, the students moved clear of the outcomes-based learning that had hitherto stultified their interactions and language. As a result, they developed a new creative agency, both singly and as a collective, and an authoritative discourse. They left this discourse open for me to join, and also continue afterwards, as I have done here, by presenting and interpreting their voices, and including new ones.[1]

[1] EDITORIAL NOTE: Charles Bisley’s article is an unusual and brave attempt to transcend the current norms of scholarly and academic genres and create a polyphonic article in which he describes a year long educational event through the voices of all of its participants – among which he counts not only his students and himself, and their audience of parents and the school authorities, but also includes educational, literary and philosophical authors who inspired him and whose thoughts guided him in his actions and reflections during and after his project in creating dramatic spaces and times with his students. His writing has elements of reflective auto-ethnography, Woolfian lyrical stream of consciousness, dialogic double-voicedness and a storytelling narrative that is intended to transport the reader into an experience of the dramatic enfolding of the events and their protagonists, actors and directors: his students and himself. Although, his work doesn’t follow what is currently assumed to be the scientific criteria regarding form, length or standard components, we find it interesting and valuable as a polyphonic approach and qualitative study.

Article Details

How to Cite
Bisley, C. (2016). I thought you’d never become one of us. Dialogic Pedagogy: A Journal for Studies of Dialogic Education, 4. https://doi.org/10.5195/dpj.2016.113
Author Biography

Charles Bisley, Kelburn Normal School

Charles Bisley is a teacher and the Curriculum Leader at Kelburn Normal School, in Wellington, New Zealand. There he leads participatory action research into ways to develop the school's curriculum to empower all students. He has a background in the performing arts, and draws on all the arts to make learning, particularly in literacy, a creative collaboration. He teaches students from K to Grade 7, with an emphasis on Grade 4 to 7. He is the Vice President of Drama New Zealand, the national organisation for drama teachers and researchers across all sectors. He is also on the editorial boards of two academic journals, and in his spare time writes poetry.