Reclaiming Literacy Classrooms Through Critical Dialogue

Is dialogue really that important in the classroom? Yes, we believe it is.  At the Life Writes Project, we encourage teachers to find new avenues of dialogue in order to connect and engage learners in new ways. If you talk to a Life Writes teacher, they will gladly discuss the benefits of purposeful dialogue and the improvements it has made in their classrooms. If you would like more documentation on the effectiveness of this approach, start here.

Reclaiming Literacy Classrooms Through Critical Dialogue” was published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. This co-authored article draws attention to the lack of dialogue between students and teachers while discussing the benefits of incorporating a critical dialogue in literacy classrooms. Included in this article are two narratives from the authors in which they discuss the studies they have conducted, giving insight into what happens when dialogical opportunities are derailed.

Both Sean McAuley and Dawan Coombs attempted to engage students in open dialogue in order to inspire them to take control of their scholastic experiences—both were unsuccessful. In their narratives, the co-authors take the reader through interviews with their students, exploring their thoughts on their educational experiences, and the ways in which their teachers discouraged personal expression in the classroom.

Though the authors’ efforts were unsuccessful, the results of their studies provide important information on the necessity of incorporating dialogue in the classroom. Despite the difficulty that comes with making this kind of change, students deserve the support and opportunity to explore their individual voices through writing and open dialogue.  

What approaches do you take in engaging students in purposeful dialogue? Share your thoughts with us. You can find us on Facebook or tag your comments on Twitter with #LifeWrites.

This contribution was made by Christina Ugrovics, senior English: Professional Writing major, French minor at Elizabethtown College, PA.