Accepted Paper:

Using ancient legends as a dialogic tool: a pedagogical strategy  
Brenda Beck (University of Toronto)

Paper short abstract:

A set of pedagogical experiments will be described and the results related to modern Communication Theory. The paper will stress the importance of Dialogic Process Theory as applied to understanding the potential positive impact of classroom-generated multi-cultural ancient-epic story telling.

Paper long abstract:

A set of pedagogical experiments will be described and the results related to modern Communication Theory. The paper will stress the importance of Dialogical Processes Theory as applied to understanding the potential positive impact of classroom-generated multi-cultural ancient-epic story telling. Using a very old oral legend from South India a variety of teachers located in India and in Canada have experimented with varied retelling techniques. The story being told encourages listeners to enter into a world where they can imaginatively experiment with living out others' culturally unique or unusual experiences. A playful imagination, in turn, allows space for the plaing with and re-negotiating of personal identities vis-a-vis others. These can be other students listening to the story in the same classroom, or persons located at home or beyond. Such a story can encourage students to absorb and endorse another's perspective if only briefly, during sporadic but powerful dialogic moments. The author will discuss at least four real life examples of how very different teachers have encouraged dialogic learning by using this same epic legend in very different ways and with different age groups. One teacher has been retelling the story in India itself, but at least three more have used it in Canadian classrooms. Using culturally "foreign" stories and a distant time frame seems to help rather than hinder the development of this dialogic process. The entry portals or "story frames" to be discussed will include Migration, Social Justice, Moral Decision Making, Family Evolution and Cultural Empathy.

Panel P119
Pedagogy: ethnographic and cognitive engagements