ERG SES C 09, Children and Education
Talk drives cognition. If we truly believe in a social constructivist pedagogy then we, as teachers and teacher educators, must find ways of enabling all children to access talk of an ‘exploratory' nature (Barnes, 1976; Mercer, Wegerif & Dawes, 1999). Barlex and Welsh (2007) recognize the idea of pupils being able to make better design decisions, through the use of exploratory talk as ‘tantalising’ and worthy of consideration. Currently, the lack of such talk and its potential for learning is not only strongly lamented (Alexander, 2012; Rose, 2009; Mercer and Littleton 2007) but the struggle to get UK government ministers to understand its value still a frustration (Littleton and Mercer, 2013). The situation is further exacerbated by findings that true collaborative activity, a necessary pre-requisite of exploratory talk, rarely happens (Blatchford, Hallam, Ireson, Kutnick & Creech, 2009). This paper identifies how some groups of children managed to foster and sustain collaboration and the exploratory talk, so elusive to current practice, and seemingly, untenable for other groups.
Alexander, R. (2012) Improving Oracy and Classroom Talk in English Schools: Achievements and Challenges. University of Cambridge Extended and referenced version of a presentation given at the DfE Seminar on Oracy, the National Curriculum and Educational Standards, 20 February 2012. Blatchford, P., Hallam,S., Ireson, J., Kutnick, P. and Creech, A. (2009) Classes, groups and transitions: structures for teaching and learning. Primary Review Research Survey 9/2, Cambridge: University of Cambridge. Leaper, C. and Smith,T. (2004) A meta-analytic review of gender variations in children’s language use: talkativeness, affiliative speech and assertive speech. Developmental Psychology Vol 40, No 6, 993-1027. Mercer, N. (2004) Socio-cultural discourse analysis: analysing classroom talk as a social mode of thinking. Journal of Applied Linguistics Vol 1, No 2, 137-168. Mercer, N. Wegerif, R. and Dawes, L. (1999) Children’s talk and the development of reasoning in the classroom. British Educational Research Journal, Vol 13, No 1, 95-111. Vygotsky, L. (1978) Mind in Society: the Developmental Processes of Higher Psychological Processes in Cole, M. John-Steiner, V., Scribner, S. and Souberman, E. (eds.) Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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