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Feinstein School of Education and Human Development


This paper is a direct result of comments Dr. Barbara Thayer-Bacon gave me on one of my previous papers. I have been exploring possible implications of Mikhail Bakhtin's notions of dialogue and polyphony for educational theory. The assumption I borrowed from Bakhtin is that dialogue is the end and everything else in a means. In other words, Bakhtin seemed to reject any absolutes with the exception of dialogical relation. I thought, and still do now, that this is a very productive idea, and that dialogue understood as a relation can effectively describe something very central to human existence. Among other things, I suggested that education must foster a student's ability to hear a multitude of human voices, and maintain internal dialogue. To do this, one must develop an ability not only to attend to the other in dialogue, but also to maintain and strengthen the other's argument. To maintain an ability of moral judgement, one has to keep one's enemy very much alive, both as a viable partner of dialogue, and as an internal voice within.

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