Chapter 4.1: Lessons We Learned About Bakhtinian Pedagogy

  • Eugene MatusovEmail author
  • Ana Marjanovic-Shane
  • Mikhail Gradovski


We learned that the most important legacy of Bakhtin’s philosophy is its dialogic framework. All those who we interviewed address and try to challenge the monologism of conventional pedagogy. The dialogic framework for most of the Bakhtin-inspired educators means a difference in the ethical approach—that is, treating each other as “a plurality of [opaque, non-transparent] consciousnesses, with equal rights and each with its own world, [that] combine but are not merged in the unity of the event”; rather than a difference in the shape and form of discourse. Accordingly, we also learned that in order to keep alive and to deepen the meaning of the pedagogical dialogues, a researcher needs to enter into dialogic analysis of the studied dialogues, which involves and provokes the minds and hearts of researchers, research participants, and readers of the research. Ethical dialogism goes beyond any meaning-making discourse and cannot be captured by discourse analysis alone because it is eventful and ethically charged.

We also found that kindling and nurturing students’ ontological engagement is an omnipresent pedagogical desire of all our Bakhtinian educators. Students’ ontological engagement meant that students’ lives generate the educational curriculum, in a form of their own inquiries and puzzlements, and also where the educational curriculum becomes a part of the students’ lives of self-actualization, in the form of new passions, their new commitments, and their new interests. However, in some cases, attempts to provoke sincere ontological engagement have led to problematic pedagogical moves, like the humiliation of the “torpedo touch.” In conjunction with the ontological engagement we found tensions and struggles regarding the status, position, and purpose of ontological engagement, as we discussed educational vortex and teacher–student power relations. Finally, we summarize our findings about the issues of Bakhtin-inspired education in currently monological and authoritarian conventional educational institutions.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eugene Matusov
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ana Marjanovic-Shane
    • 2
  • Mikhail Gradovski
    • 3
  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA
  2. 2.Independent ScholarPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.University of StavangerStavangerNorway

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