Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Two monologues don't make a dialogue

Yesterday I followed a link on Twitter to this article about Dialogue -vs.-Discussion.  I was happy to have found this so that I had time to think about the distinction between the two, especially as I was asked to take part in an interview with Dr. Aric Sigman who visited our school today to talk to students from Grade 4 up about electronic media use and the implications of this on cognitive and social development.  I am no fan of Dr. Sigman - who often seems to cherry-pick through scientific evidence - as in the Daily Mail article about how Facebook can cause cancer - however as team leader for ICTL it seemed the job of conducting this interview would fall to me.   As everyone reading this blog will know, I believe passionately in the transformative nature of technology - that it can make a real impact on student learning - and I'm sad that such a negative view of technology was presented to the students and parents.

In a nutshell here are the differences between dialogue and discussion:
Discussion - a presentation of our ideas - the purpose of discussion is to ensure your point of view is the accepted one, therefore you support your idea and make your points strongly until others agree with you.
Dialogue - everyone contributes towards an idea - more and more is achieved as each person's ideas are added.  The aim of dialogue is to learn and create.  Team members are equals.

The purpose of an interview is neither of these.  The interviewer (in this case me) is definitely not seen as an equal with ideas to contribute, nor is the role of the interviewer that of presenting his or her own ideas.  All the interviewer can do is ask questions.  I decided I'd like to ask questions based on the report "The New 3Es of Education:  Enabled, Engaged and Empowered - How Today's Students are Leveraging Emerging Technologies for Learning" which was featured in Time Magazine online yesterday.  I tried to ask open ended questions about responsible use and good digital citizenship, multi-tasking, social networks, cell phones, texting and so on.

This afternoon a colleague shared with me this link to the Bad Science website run by Dr Ben Goldacre, an award winning writer, broadcaster and medical doctor who specialises in unpicking dodgy scientific claims.  He has been writing the Bad Science column in the Guardian since 2003.  Dr Goldacre disputes the claim that social networking leads to loneliness and to biological harm and he appears with Dr Sigman in the following video.  As we teach our students to think critically about what they hear, see and read, I thought it might be interesting to post this video.  Dialogue is extremely important and clearly two monologues don't make a dialogue!

Photo Credit:  Romain Gerard:  Speech balloons by Marc Wathieu

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