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In September 2011 in Rome at the International Society for Cultural and Activity Research conference, Eugene Matusov (USA), Kiyotaka Miyazaki (Japan), Jayne White (New Zealand), and Olga Dysthe (Norway) organized a symposium on Dialogic Pedagogy. Formally during the symposium and informally after the symposium several heated discussions started among the participants about the nature of dialogic pedagogy. The uniting theme of these discussions was a strong commitment by all four participants to apply the dialogic framework developed by Soviet-Russian philosopher and literary theoretician Bakhtin to education. In this special issue, Eugene Matusov (USA) and Kiyotaka Miyazaki (Japan) have developed only three of the heated issues discussed at the symposium in a form of dialogic exchanges (dialogue-disagreements). We invited our Dialogic Pedagogy colleagues Jayne White (New Zealand) and Olga Dysthe (Norway) to write commentaries on the dialogues. Fortunately, Jayne White kindly accepted the request and wrote her commentary. Unfortunately, Olga Dysthe could not participate due to her prior commitments to other projects. We also invited Ana Marjanovic-Shane (USA), Beth Ferholt (USA), Rupert Wegerif (UK), and Paul Sullivan (UK) to comment on Eugene-Kiyotaka dialogue-disagreement.
The first two heated issues were initiated by Eugene Matusov by providing a typology of different conceptual approaches to Dialogic Pedagogy that he had noticed in education. Specifically, the debate with Kiyotaka Miyazaki (and the other two participants) was around three types of Dialogic Pedagogy defined by Eugene Matusov: instrumental, epistemological, and ontological types of Dialogic Pedagogy. Specifically, Eugene Matusov subscribes to ontological dialogic pedagogy arguing that dialogic pedagogy should be built around students’ important existing or emergent life interests, concerns, questions, and needs. He challenged both instrumental dialogic pedagogy that is mostly interested in using dialogic interactional format of instruction to make students effectively arrive at preset curricular endpoints and epistemological dialogic pedagogy that is most interested in production of new knowledge for students. Kiyotaka Miyazaki (and other participants) found this typology not to be useful and challenged the values behind it. Kiyotaka Miyazaki introduced the third heated topic of treating students as “heroes” of the teacher’s polyphonic pedagogy similar to Dostoevsky’s polyphonic novel based on Bakhtin’s analysis. Eugene Matusov took issue with treating students as “heroes” of teacher’s polyphonic pedagogy arguing that in Dialogic Pedagogy students author their own education and their own becoming.
Originally, we wanted to present our Dialogue on Dialogic Pedagogy in the following format. An initiator of a heated topic develops his argument, the opponent provides a counter-argument, and then the initiator has an opportunity to reply with his “final word” (of course, we know that there is no “final word” in a dialogue). However, after Eugene Matusov developed two of his heated topics, Kiyotaka Miyazaki wanted to reply to both of them in one unified response, rather than two separate replies. Jayne White, Ana Marjanovic-Shane, Beth Ferholt, and Paul Sullivan wrote commentaries about the entire exchange and these commentaries should be treated as part of our Dialogue on Dialogic Pedagogy. We hope that readers, interested in Dialogic Pedagogy, will join our heated Dialogue-Disagreement and will introduce more heated topics.
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