Dialogue on ‘Dialogic Education’: Has Rupert gone over to ‘the Dark Side’?

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Eugene Matusov
Rupert Wegerif


This email dialogue that we record and report here between Eugene Matusov and Rupert Wegerif, exemplifies Internet mediated dialogic education. When Eugene emailed Rupert with his initial (mis)understanding of Rupert's position about dialogic pedagogy Rupert felt really motivated to reply. Rupert was not simply motivated to refute Eugene and assert his correctness, although Rupert is sure such elements enter into every dialogue, but also to explore and to try to resolve the issues ignited by the talk in New Zealand. Through this extended dialogue Rupert's and Eugene's positions become more nuanced and focussed. Rupert brings out his concern with the long-term and collective nature of some dialogues claiming that the – "dialogue of humanity that education serves is bigger than the interests of particular students and particular teachers.…" – and so he argues that it is often reasonable to induct students into the dialogue so far so that they can participate fully. On the other hand, Eugene's view of dialogue seems more focussed on personal responsibility, particular individual desires, interests and positions, individual agency and answering the final ethical "damned questions" without an alibi-in-being.  Rupert claims that dialogic education is education FOR dialogue and Eugene claims that dialogic education is education AS dialogue. Both believe in education THROUGH dialogue but education through dialogue is not in itself dialogic education. For Rupert dialogic education can include ‘scaffolding’ for full participation in dialogue as long as dialogue is the aim. For Eugene dialogic education has to be a genuine dialogue and this means that a curriculum goal cannot be specified in advance because learning in a dialogue is always emergent and unpredictable. Our dialogue-disagreement is a relational and discursive experiment to develop a new genre of academic critical dialogue. The dialogue itself called to us and motivated us and flowed through us. This dialogue is much bigger than us. It participates in a dialogue that humanity has been having about education for thousands of years. We hope that it also engages you and calls you to respond.

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How to Cite
Matusov, E., & Wegerif, R. (2014). Dialogue on ‘Dialogic Education’: Has Rupert gone over to ‘the Dark Side’?. Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal, 2. https://doi.org/10.5195/dpj.2014.78
Author Biographies

Eugene Matusov, School of Education University of Delaware, Newark, DE, United States

Professor of Education School of Education University of Delaware

Rupert Wegerif, University of Exeter

Professor of Education