In this episode we explore how a spontaneous pupil challenge and the teacher’s response to it ignite a ‘dialogic spell’. The episode takes place in the second of two consecutive lessons on story opening. The teacher has just demonstrated to the class the lesson’s key idea and objective – to open their stories by dropping the reader right into the action – and begins to set them the task of working in pairs to act out the opening to their own story. Before she finishes her instructions, however, she is interrupted by an interjection from William: ‘Miss, I don’t really like that’. We analyse in detail the interaction that follows William’s challenge and use this analysis to investigate the conditions that facilitate dialogue as well as the dilemmas inherent to this mode of classroom participation and learning.
Following our analysis of the episode we include guest commentaries by Robin Alexander, Fellow of Wolfson College at Cambridge University, Professor of Education Emeritus at Warwick University and Director of the Cambridge Primary Review; Gemma Moss, Professor of Education at the Institute of Education University of London; Greg Thompson, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Brigham Young University and Affiliated Researcher with the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition at University of California, San Diego; and Laura Hughes, the teacher who appears in the clip and who was the Assistant Headteacher of the school at that time.
Here’s the full transcript for this episode.