1st Edition

Dialogic Education Mastering core concepts through thinking together

By Neil Phillipson, Rupert Wegerif Copyright 2017
    206 Pages
    by Routledge

    206 Pages
    by Routledge

    Dialogue has long been used in primary classrooms to stimulate thinking, but it is not always easy to unite the creative thinking of good dialogue with the need for children to understand the core concepts behind knowledge-rich subjects. A sound understanding of key concepts is essential to progress through the national curriculum, and assessment of this understanding along with effective feedback is central to good practice.

    Dialogic Education builds upon decades of practical classroom research to offer a method of teaching that applies the power of dialogue to achieving conceptual mastery. Easy-to-follow template lesson plans and activity ideas are provided, each of which has been tried and tested in classrooms and is known to succeed.

    Providing a structure for engaging children and creating an environment in which dialogue can flourish, this book is separated into three parts:

    • Establishing a classroom culture of learning;
    • Core concepts across the curriculum;
    • Wider dialogues: Educational adventures in the conversation of mankind.

    Written to support all those in the field of primary education, this book will be an essential resource for student, trainee and qualified primary teachers interested in the educational importance of dialogue.


    Introduction: Why ‘dialogic education’?

    Part 1: Establishing a classroom culture of learning

    Chapter 1: The 4Cs of Thinking Together

    Chapter 2: A Practical Guide to Introducing the 4Cs to Your Classroom

    Chapter 3: Making Progress with the 4Cs

    Chapter 4: Developing the Skills of Dialogue

    Part 2: Core Concepts across the Curriculum

    Chapter 5: The principles of dialogic education for conceptual understanding

    Chapter 6: Science and the concept of ‘force’

    Chapter 7: Religious Education, the personification of concepts and the core concept of ‘Love’

    Chapter 8: Mathematics and the concept of ‘proof’

    Chapter 9: English literature and the concept of ‘theme’

    Part 3: Wider Dialogues: Educational Adventures in the Conversation of Mankind

    Chapter 10: The Wider Purposes of Education

    Chapter 11: An Adventure in Citizenship

    Chapter 12: An Adventure in the History of Science

    Chapter 13: Global dialogue

    Last words



    Neil Phillipson has seventeen years of experience as a teacher, subject leader and consultant/trainer. He is a Sapere-registered trainer and has provided training in Philosophy for Children to schools around the UK. He is also a regular speaker about the importance of dialogue at conferences and in schools.

    Rupert Wegerif is a professor of education at the University of Exeter, UK. He has spent more than twenty years working closely with teachers on research projects developing and evaluating effective approaches to teaching dialogue and has written many books and articles on dialogic education including Dialogic: Education for the Internet Age.

    Written with extra materials provided by:

    Giles Freathy, Specialist Leader of Education at Sir Robert Geffery’s Primary School, Cornwall, UK, recipient of the TES Humanities Award (2014) and co-creator of the RE-searchers approach to Religious Education.

    Dr Taro Fujita, Lecturer in Maths Education and Anita Wood, tutor in Primary English, both part of the ‘outstanding’ (Ofsted) initial teacher education team at the Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter, UK.

    Lyndon Watkins, Headteacher, St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, UK

    • There is a real need for books such as this one. The spread of the ‘Thinking Schools’ group referred to by the authors illustrates this point well. The potential market is world-wide.
    • I expect that many teacher training institutions and trainee teachers would be potential customers. In addition, the principles and content of the book would also be of interest to those involved with Key Stage Three provision in my opinion. With regard to the student market, I would expect the text to be used as ‘recommended reading’ for teacher training courses.
    • In paperback, I would say that a reasonable price for this book would be in the region of £15 as a maximum.
    • As a person who is deeply involved in education, I would be interested in the title, particularly the sub-title with its reference to ‘mastering core concepts’. I think that the word ‘learning’ would enhance the main title as it‘s a more positive, appealing and practical word than ‘education’. I think that ‘Dialogic Learning’ or ‘Learning Through Dialogic Education’ might appeal more.
    • I am not aware of the detail of Neil Phillipson’s direct work but I am very much aware of the success of P4C. Rupert Wegerif’s record indicates that he is an acknowledged authority in this area. The expertise of the two authors seem to be complementary in nature.
    • Strengths of the authors‘ coverage are:

      • The rationale for working in this area is strong as it highlights the common drawbacks of group based learning; namely that it tends to include either individuals egotistically imposing their views or those who uncritically agree in order to maintain harmony. The skills that this book aims to develop should enable pupils to realise that a ‘middle course’ is attainable. This is an impressive and distinctive feature, using process based learning.
      • The concept of the 4Cs framework is well introduced and some key characteristics are clearly highlighted.
      • Sample lessons are well structured. Sufficient choices are given in a way that allows teachers to make necessary adjustments according to their own circumstances.
      • Warm-up activities ‘sow interesting seeds’
      • The manner in which oracy and drama are integrated into activities is impressive; it allows for ‘deep learning’ to take place; in a way that is related to the aim of ‘mastery learning’.

    Jane McIntyre, CEO Thinking Schools, South Africa

    • Regarding South Africa as ‘elsewhere’ to the UK and US: In South African education, there is a definite need for a practical guide to develop Dialogic in classroom practice. In Thinking Schools South Africa’s work in facilitating the development of schools as thinking communities, the concepts of Collaboration, Creativity, Criticality and Caring are pillars of our practice.
    • Regarding the market of student teachers, I could see that it would have a use in teacher training courses, at universities and teacher training colleges. A potential advocate for it might be Karin Murris, who is a Philosophy for Children expert and Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Cape Town. Another, is Prof Mary Grosser at the University of North West, where teachers are trained in explicit classroom thinking practices.
    • This is a book that we would promote, as we do not currently have a resource that specifically and explicitly unpacks how to develop more effective classroom conversations to learn together effectively. Our work is focused on developing more effective teaching and learning within the curriculum, and this approach of teaching through dialogue would help SA schools achieve this goal.

    We currently reach 2000 teachers/heads face-to-face per year, who could potentially afford to buy a book like this. We also work with a few projects in low income communities, where there is the possibility of a much bigger market that could be tapped into, if there was a sponsor who would be prepared to fund copies of the book.

    • The title is accurate, and if you are close to this area of study, it speaks to you. My reason for picking the book up would be that I have had engaging conversations with Rupert Wegerif about Dialogic and Thinking Together, and have had time to reflect on the importance of this work. I also appreciate that this needs to be directed at mastering core concepts. Although, I might be concerned that the word ‘Education’ in ‘Dialogic Education’ might mean a whole new system rather than a way to improve my existing teaching and learning practice. South African (and other) teachers might find the title on its own too academic
    • It addresses an area of frustration most teachers experience with group discussions and group work, giving a practical framework and lesson plan ideas based on decades of research by experts on the field.
    • I totally agree with the "as cheap as possible" suggestion, particularly in the light of South Africa’s weak currency If this was made available at a price we can afford to use widely, Thinking Schools South Africa would like to facilitate a one-day introductory workshop to 150 - 200 teachers, whereby the cost of the workshop would include that of the book, so that they can take a copy back to their schools.
    • How quickly is this book likely to become out of date?

    Not at all quickly. We have a long way to go to embed these important skills. Instead of becoming ‘out of date’, it may need to be extended into other contexts, such as high school, post school, and other cultural and curricula contexts.

    • Are the authors recognised authorities in this field?

    Very much so! They bring together relevant expertise in Dialogic and Philosophy for Children very effectively.

    • Major strengths and distinctive features:

      • Meeting a growing and articulated need to address how to up-skill students to participate more effectively in interdependent learning.
      • The 4 Cs model is a memorable and practical framework, and the lesson guidelines empower practical implementation.

    Alan Howe, Primary Science Coordinator, Bath Spa University, UK

    • This book will be a useful and original addition to texts that are currently available concerning primary pedagogy. It would appeal to pre-service and in-service teachers looking to develop their understanding and skills in classroom talk/ dialogue/ questioning/ discussion. The books is timely and relevant
    • The market is likely to be in the UK, US, Australia in particular – classroom talk is high on the agenda of pedagogical research (and hence teacher education) in many developed countries. I would anticipate the interest in classroom ‘dialogue’ to grow in the future. Loosening reference to ‚national curriculum‘ (presumably England) may engage a wider audience beyond the subjects listed and also from outside England.
    • The authors should also have in mind the Education Studies market (academic studies in education) at UG and MA level. The book would sit as a supplementary text for PGCe course or perhaps key text for an education studies module that focus on talk and dialogue (such as the one in my own university).
    • The title does not suggest a focus on primary education – either consider change the title or ensure the cover makes it clear this is part of a primary series.
    • The author (Wegerif) is a respected academic authority in the field. I am not familiar with the work of Dr. Neil Phillipson but his website suggests he has a wealth of expertise in relevant fields. They would seem to have complementary knowledge and skills to offer this project.