"The means is dialogue, the end is learning, the purpose is peace." ~ Founder Dr. Jane Vella

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Part Two: Teasing-Out How Our Theory of Learning/Teaching Matters

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The proper aim of education is to promote significant learning. Significant learning entails development. Development means successively asking broader and deeper questions of the relationship between oneself and the world. –Laurent A. Daloz (1999) Just for fun, let’s look at potential alternatives for each of the sentences in this quote. The proper aim of education is to promote significant learning. How about, the proper aim of education is to promote:

  • The skills, attitude and knowledge to make (a lot of) money
  • Know how to live in ways that promote community and peace
  • Have a range of skills that lead to flexible adaptability in order to prepare for an unknown future
  • Know how to manage emotions and urges in service of themselves and others
  • Give American corporations a competitive advantage so that stockholders can earn dividends and people have jobs
  • Follow the rules of the current society

Significant learning entails development. How about, significant learning entails:

  • Mastering a craft
  • Producing what is valued in society
  • Promotes the recognition of the ways in which we oppress and the ways we are oppressed

Development means successively asking broader and deeper questions of the relationship between oneself and the world. How about, development means:

  • Fully prepared for jobs (that may or may not exist any longer)
  • Respectfully exploring and openly responding to others’ ideas
  • Passionately upholding the values and ideas that your family, your community and/or your country has established

As I consider these alternatives and the quote above, I can imagine widely different approaches to the way I prepare for and teach, as well as what I imagine I need or want to learn. What strikes you?

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Speaking of Dialogue- what does silence have to offer?

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I remember some time ago, reading an article on silence, what can be learned through and within silence as a part of research projects. I wonder how Dialogue Education practitioners might mine silence even more fully? Here are a few tidbits that come to my mind, still lips, and busy fingers:

  • It is in silence that we truly hear and see. This is not easy for most folks.
  • Silence may indicate lots of internal noise.
  • Apprehension happens in silence.
  • Lots of dialogue doesn't mean authenticity; look for what is not said.

What would you like to add this? For some provocative quotes about silence go to: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/silence_13.html

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Forget Show and Tell – Showing (not Telling) Strengthens Learning

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Creative writers all know what’s sometimes called the first rule of writing:  show, don’t tell. What does this mean? Here, I’ll show you:

TELLING

Our fundraiser was really successful and fun. We were filled to capacity and exceeded our goals for income.

SHOWING

I’ve never seen so many people in our auditorium; they were spilling out into the foyer and the laughter was uproarious! Andrew Carnegie came up to me at the end and said he hadn’t had so much fun in years and then he wrote us a check for $20,000, which put us over our target by half!

As a writer, I think all the time about show, don’t tell, and it occurred to me how much it applies to learning and work environments, too. Here are some of the ways you can use the Principles and Practices of Dialogue Education (scroll down) to use showing to enhance your meetings, workshops, seminars, etc:

  1. Use Case Studies – A case study is a short story that poses a problem on the theme being studied. Use it to invite dialogue for people to learn and test new theories.
  2. Congruence, or, What I Say, I Do! – Model what it is you’re teaching or leading others to experience.
  3. Use Charts, Graphs, Visuals – the classic example of show, don’t tell – which would you rather see, a huge spreadsheet full of data or a simple pie chart?
  4. Use Found Objects – Adult learners can be invited to use anything they can put their hands on to symbolize whatever is relevant to your task at hand. They can share stories about their efforts, for example, or their family, or to show the problems of their community, or to demonstrate their longings for a better life.

You can find these and other great ideas in Training Through Dialogue, Dr. Jane Vella. What do you  use to show rather than tell? Share your stories!

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Focus Matters

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Focus and Attention Just like a photograph can bring a specific dimension of a scene into focus or to our attention. Writing about why we do what we do can bring new insights. Part One B: Teasing-Out How Our Theory of Learning/Teaching Matters Some readers will remember the invitation in the last post of mine (May 27). I thought I would share one of my attempts here (in response to the last post) just in case someone else might like to see an example. An example where I hit a wall, I might add! It could go like this: I model and teach Deep Structure Living because People gain insights about themselves and the world People can see how what is brought to them can serve to enlarge the way they see, as often as things are seen as barriers or challenges and limit our view So that he/she can choose the actions that are most appropriate for him/her So that he/she feels more in control of their life, less vulnerable But wait, I don’t think we are control of our life; I think we are in control to a certain extent, of our responses. Hmmmmm. How does this strike you? Take a turn if you like.

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Dialogue Education Has Turned Me into a Rebel

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Rebel

Be forewarned:  Dialogue Education can spoil you for the average professional conference! Those of you who’ve been involved in Dialogue Education learning events know what I’m talking about:  you attend a conference full of talking head panel discussions and you end up spending every session redesigning the curriculum (if you can call it that!). I used to feel sort of guilty about that, but no longer! I finally realized I was doing some great learning while redesigning those sessions. (If you’ve not been involved in Dialogue Education, check us out!) I’m a creative writer and every year the big writers conference from the Associated Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) is held in a big American city. The last one I attended was in New York and there were more than 9,000 attendees. What’s amazing to me is that the endless selection of learning sessions that span several days must be panel discussions. It’s in the rules. Only panels. Hmm. Time to rebel!  A friend and I applied to “present” at the next AWP conference in Washington, DC and we have a secret mission – to revolutionize the conference by introducing Dialogue Education. We want to create a buzz big enough that people will spread the word and begin to ask what made our session so fantastic. We hope the organizers catch wind of it (or, better yet, we’ll try to get them in the room!) and decide to put an end to the era of talking heads. At the very least we know the participants will have a great learning experience. Have you been a Dialogue Education rebel? Do share!

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