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


What to Do with the What For


Okay, so that title won’t excite the search engines, but how many of you who use Dialogue Education go crazy with frustration every time you get to the What For step in your design process?

(For those of you who haven’t used the 8 Steps of Design, the What For is the 6th step in the curriculum design process in which you describe what it is the learners will have done with the content of each learning task, also known as Achievement-Based Objectives.)

I’ve been using Dialogue Education for a couple of years and am no expert by any means (I’ve taken Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach and SUREFire Meetings), but I’ve done enough designing to feel I should be used to the What For. Still, every time I get to that point I stumble. “What, what?” I always think, or, on my less patient days, “What the . . . ?”  Then I dig out the binder from my Learning to Listen course, and root around inside to remind myself what the What For is all about. Here’s a tip that’s worked for me:  use Will Have instead. It’s a great trigger, because every time it makes me think this:  By the end of the learning task the learner will have __________. Ahhhhh. No more stumbling.  And just when I thought I was being so original, I find that Jane Vella herself adopted the "will have" years ago (I should know this, working for Global Learning Partners . . . but, you see, we're always learning!). Must be a good idea!

How have you modified Dialogue Education lingo to suit yourself? 

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


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?


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


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:


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


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


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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