The nature of dialogue, dialogical relations, and the role of an other: A theoretical and practical conception of dialogue and its role in advancing teacher understanding and practice.
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AbstractThe argument of this thesis is that dialogue, dialogical relations, and an Other (a dialogical partner) create possibilities for engaging teachers in critical reflection about the practical reasoning underlying their teaching. Through dialogue teachers can be enabled to appraise thoughtfully "why" they do what they do and strengthen their justification for practice. Through dialogical relations teachers and an Other can develop shared understandings of pedagogy, teach and learn collaboratively, and generate possibilities for advancing practice. In this study, the Other assisted three secondary teachers in reflective dialogue, over the period of one year. The purposes of the dialogical relations were to help the teachers to elicit their beliefs that guide their teaching, to question premises, and to justify them. By examining the dialogue that occurred throughout the study specific characteristics of dialogue and the dialogical relation emerged. The study reveals types of interruptions that can become a potential barrier to the continuation of productive dialogue (the elicitation, appraisal, and reconstruction of teachers' practical argument). Seven types of interruptions to productive dialogue are identified. The other characteristics of dialogue that are discussed here include instances when dialogue came to a halt, the initiation of dialogue, and constructive processes of productive dialogue. The nature of the dialogical relation is discussed in terms of the dialogical person. The teachers and the Other were found to be dialogical persons. A dialogical person was found to (1) actualize a sense of presentness, (2) be self-disclosing and a listener, (3) be an educator and a learner, (4) display a willfulness to evolve and to assist others in their process of becoming, (5) freely give of him/herself, (6) be tolerant and kindred, (7) exhibit an on-going sense of curiosity, and (8) seek mutual agreement. A dialogical person is a key concept helpful for making sense of some of the complexity in the theoretical conception of the dialogical relation. This work may help to inform the field of teacher education about the practical applications of dialogue, dialogical relations, and the role of the Other--"a critical friend."