Cogenerative dialogue praxis in a lighthouse school: Contradictions, ethical concerns, expansive learning, and "Kids being kids."




Stith, Ian

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This study grew out of my work with Maggie, a teacher at Blueberry Vale elementary school in suburban western Canada. Maggie and I began to use cogenerative dialogues after we identified and sought a method to address a number of issues in her class. Cogenerative dialogue praxis is meetings of students, teachers, researchers, and others designed to facilitate the process of improving the teaching and learning taking place. To this time this praxis has been used exclusively at the secondary education level. As such this study developed its overarching question: what will happen when cogenerative dialogue praxis is introduced to an elementary school class? To address this question I focus on: the activities in question and try to account for the various mediating factors each action experiences; human agency, which helped me understand the role the individuals play in instigating change to the system; and an ethical understanding of responsibility. From this analysis I form these specific claims: Cogenerative dialogue praxis is an authentic research tool which, when conducted properly, can address some of the ethical issues inherent in classroom research; cogenerative dialogue praxis facilitates the discussion of the ethical issues that are part of the research setting (e.g., class); cogenerative dialogue praxis is one viable solution for teachers to ethically mediate the various activity systems that constitute a class; cogenerative dialogue praxis contains internal contradictions such that there is the potential for its openness to collapse by its openness to any comment; a significant amount of time may be spent “unfocused,” during cogenerative dialogues but many of these moments can be contextualized positively in terms of building relationships, introducing new teaching topics, and so on; during my cogenerative dialogues the group developed and implemented a model to address a problem through cycles of expansive learning; and finally I learned from Maggie how teachers work with researchers, as researchers, evaluate their own work, and can direct research studies in new directions. These topics are important to my study but also introduce further discussion in regard to ethnographic research methods, current teacher praxis, and the continual development of cogenerative dialogue praxis.



Education, cogenerative dialogues