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

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

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Teasing-Out Why teasing-out, because research indicates that we aim towards our values, but we may behave differently, and, we may behave differently from one circumstance to another*. So to “tease” or sift, allows us to gently observe, apprehend and reflect upon our practices and the thoughts and influences that produce them. From here, we can choose to change, if we will it. How Just like different points of view (POV) make a dramatic difference in literature, who has the power and reliability to tell the “story” of what is worth knowing, what is knowing and so on, is critical in a workshop, college course or any other adult education endeavor. The person or persons who determine what is noticed, amplified, dampened and operationalized prior to, during and after a course, has a lot of power. Our Theory Rarely are people, teachers/professors fully aware of our theory of why we do what we do prior to, within and after our work with learners, nor do we always fully explore the implications this has for the learners or the outcomes. In addition to the research regarding behavior and espoused values, also our views and actions may change over time. Learning/Teaching What is to know? Why know? What is learning? Why learn? What is important to know? Why? All of these questions and more can be unpacked with regard to teaching. Matters Life can be thought of as a process of learning, growing and changing that matters, that each and every person (and more) matter.  As humans we have the choice to engage in actions that honor our own and others’ ability to choose and self-manage our practice and learning, or not. So the our remains, Teasing Out How Our Theory of Learning/Teaching Matters. Honoring that this blog entry is the first of several that I hope will gently unpack new views (and perhaps new actions) for the writer and reader, what would you add to any of the above thus far? If you want a challenge, take out your journal or a piece of paper (napkin, etc.) and write and then respond to: I teach people so that _______________________. So that  ________________________________________. So that  ________________________________________. Keep on going until you get to what you see as the pivotal purpose you approach teaching with. *See page 168 in A Primer of Positive Psychology by Christopher Peterson for a summary of circumstances that we are most likely to live up to our values. Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (July 27, 2006).

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Welcome!

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Welcome to, and hip-hip-hooray for the first, the one, and the only, Global Learning Partners, Inc. blog!!!! I am excited about this opportunity to reach out into the field of adult education and educators. As we all know, I will learn lots in the work to prepare, write, read and be responsive to your input and feedback. Welcome. We have our work cut out for us, for the questions we will ask and consider here have been asked for centuries. To kick off “Speaking of Dialogue” I thought we’d take on the other age-old problem: describing Dialogue Education. I have had the hardest time over the years trying to briefly say what Dialogue Education is. So, are you game to try this on? One of the clients I am working with is training volunteers who will in turn work with people in their neighborhood in gardening and environmental advocacy projects. Volunteers will participate in weekly sessions for eight weeks, with homework and fieldwork in between sessions. Here is the first version of a quasi-mnemonic created to “explain” the approach used in the eight-week training (Dialogue Education):

In this project, the RANGE of experience, and skills, knowledge and attitudes are drawn upon so we can be RESOURCES to and for each other, here and in the field. We RESPECT each other and what we bring to the table by RATCHETING up the learning every time, all the time. We REINFORCE learning during each session and back in the neighborhood. A learning task RESEMBLES the reality of the field, so it is REPEATABLE back in your neighborhoods.

Of course, this phrasing has been and will be adapted by the people who will actually be engaged in the project. What creative or concise approaches have you used to describe Dialogue Education, or any other approach to adult learning, for that matter? The "About" page for this blog also contains a brief summary: http://globalearning.com/blog/about/. darlene goetzman

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