Education Dialogic Pedagogy
E. Jayne White
  • LAST MODIFIED: 12 January 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0261


Dialogic pedagogy is broadly concerned with dialogues in, around, and about teaching and learning. It differs radically from dialectic pedagogy in that the emphasis lies in the dialogue spaces in between learners (and teachers) rather than in hierarchical arrangements imposed by well-meaning authorities. Dialogic pedagogy takes its roots from a philosophical legacy originating in Socratic dialogues (and some would say even earlier in Menippeaic dialogues of ancient Greece). Various aspects of dialogic thought can be traced in the writings of Arendt, Bibler, Buber, Derrida, Gadamer, Habermas, Heidegger, Lévinas, Rorty, Spinoza, and Wittgenstein—to name a few. While dialogic pedagogy has a long history in philosophical thought and practice, and latterly in linguistics, it has only recently been granted legitimacy in formal education across the globe through the works of Dewey, Freire, Ranciere, Yakubinsky, and Bakhtin who have each, in their own ways, sought to bring dialogic philosophy to bear on pedagogical thought and practice. This annotated bibliography focuses primarily on writings that are mainly concerned with the interanimated ideas of Mikhail Bakhtin and members of his Russian network (in particular Malovich, Medvedev, and Voloshinov). Contemporary manifestations of dialogic pedagogy based on these origins are widely viewed as an antidote to authoritative regimes of control and accountability that now orient practice in many parts of the world. By its very premise dialogic pedagogy does not prescribe specific pedagogical approaches but, instead, provides a series of principles to orient practice that is attentive to the shaping nature of dialogues, the interanimating voices at play, and the implications of these for learning. Emphasis is placed on the event of dialogue as the form-shaping, orienting basis of pedagogy. It is not merely an exchange from one speaker to another, or a form of transmission of ideas, but rather a moral imperative to engage in joint meaning making on dialogic terms. In dialogic pedagogy, therefore, dialogue is learning and thus becomes a focus for investigation and practice.

General Overview

A series of writers—many of whom have been responsible for translating Bakhtin’s original works into English—have produced key texts which provide an introduction to dialogism and the dialogic principles that have been applied to pedagogy. Holquist 2002 introduces the term ‘dialogism’ as a central orientation for understanding Bakhtin’s works. Locating dialogism historically Brandist and Tihanov 2000 provides a means of understanding both the complex interdisciplinary roots of Bakhtin’s ideas, but also their contemporary significance. Morson and Emerson 1990 as well as Clark and Holquist 1985 invite an appreciation of these wider concepts as essential for an application of dialogism to pedagogy—not only in terms of what might be realized, but also its limitations as a ‘catch all’ for teaching and learning.

  • Brandist, C., and G. Tihanov, eds. 2000. Materializing Bakhtin. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    These leading authors (Brandist as Director of the Bakhtin Centre at Sheffield University, Tihanov as co-director of the Russian Institute for Cosmopolitan Cultures at University of Manchester) provide an in-depth exegesis of Bakhtin’s ideas and their interanimation with members of Bakhtin’s circles. The book (and associated historical texts by both authors) locates dialogic philosophy within groups of artists and thinkers who met regularly during the earlier phases of Bakhtin’s writings. Their influence cannot be understated and it is traced through subsequent Bakhtinian texts by Brandist and Tihanov.

  • Clark, K., and M. Holquist. 1985. Mikhail Bakhtin. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

    A seminal American text that outlines the works of Bakhtin and their significance. Both authors contributed to the translation of Bakhtin’s works from Russian into English, and pick up on key ideas across Bakhtin’s lifetime of writing. They take the contentious view that Bakhtin was responsible for texts by Voloshinov and others based on their interpretations.

  • Holquist, M. 2002. Dialogism: Bakhtin and his world. London & New York: Routledge.

    This book sets out the notion of dialogism as an overarching concept for the work of Bakhtin. Holquist claims that Bakhtin’s overall philosophical quest was primarily concerned with questions of identity. He unpacks the associated tenets of dialogism which privilege the opposing nature of communicated messages, rather than their assimilation.

  • Morson, G. S., and C. Emerson. 1990. Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a prosaics. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

    A formative text providing an overview of the major works and global concepts of Bakhtin, as well as their significance for contemporary issues in the humanities as well as the study of literature. Emphasis is placed on making sense of Bakhtin over the entirety of his lifetime and in consideration of his colleagues whose ideas are influential in understanding the overall context of dialogism. The notion of prosaics is given centrality in comprehension of the dialogic quest to understand the everyday nature of human experience.

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