Welcome to the 17th post in our Journey in Dialog. Some educators worry that the often well-worn and biased lectures delivered in colleges don’t equip the next generations for the practices needed to participate in the transformation of the world. Too much education, argues one educator, involves pedagogic “banking” in which professors make deposits in their students without helping them to learn how to use their knowledge. Dialog would require more effort, and the vulnerabilities of teachers would be exposed.

Educational systems are being challenged by increasing diversity in classrooms, students failing to achieve, employers complaining that graduates lack basic skills, a culture that wants easy answers and quick fixes, and a loss of public confidence in education and educational professionals. How might dialog address these issues?

Jane Vella designed and led community education and staff development programs in more than 40 countries. She has been a professor and author. In one of her books[1] she got my attention with her chapter on “Quantum Thinking and Dialogue Education.”

She points out that quantum thinking is moving us beyond Newtonian mechanics to a new paradigm. She connects dialogue education and quantum thinking. “We have been brought up to accept hierarchy, certainty, cause-and-effect relationships, either-or thinking, and a universe that works as a machine—in short, mechanistic thinking. It is a shock for most of us to consider a universe composed of energy that is patterned and spontaneous, the certainty of uncertainty, “both/and” thinking, and the connectedness of everything. This is quantum thinking.”

Some of Vella’s comments ring dialog bells.

• The purpose of dialogue education is to evoke optimal learning.
• Learners learn more than we teach.
• Open questions invite both/and thinking.
• Each person’s perception of any given reality is different.
• Many of the principles and practices of dialogue education are designed to raise and sustain the energy of learners.
• Dialogue education provides a site for learners to explore the uncertainty of any subject matter, providing a safe place for the both/and thinking.
• Relationships among learners and between learners and teacher reflect respect for the uniqueness of each person and the connection of all that occurs and all that is being studied.
• We listen to learners with more finely attuned ears.

If you have followed the 16 previous posts, do you see “dialog bells” ringing in Vella’s comments – and, if you do – do you think more education should be the kind that Vella advocates?

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[1] Learning To Listen, Learning To Teach – The Power of Dialogue in Educating Adults