Chapter 2.3: The Educational Vortex in Bakhtinian Pedagogy

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


Deeply engaging the students in education is one of the strongest pedagogical desires of most educators. The desire is to make all students fascinated with a targeted educational subject, so they become active and enthusiastic in studying it. Student engagement is a primary marker of the quality of education. A disengaged student learns little or not at all and often disrupts the teacher and other, engaged students. Progressive educators’ belief expressed by the American educator Jerome Bruner is that “any subject could be taught to any child at any age in some form that was honest” (Bruner, Actual minds, possible words (p. 129). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986). The question is how an educator can find this “honest” way of teaching that creates “an educational vortex” of fascination for every student, which forcefully pulls them in to any curricular topic each moment of the lesson. In other words, the task of the educational vortex is to make students like, if not even passionately love, any academic subject and curricular theme that the society (or the teacher) finds important for them to learn. In this chapter we examine ways that Bakhtinian educators conceptualize and orchestrate an educational vortex in their practice. We discuss if it is always possible to achieve an educational vortex for every student’s engagement in every subject and whether the lack of an educational vortex is necessarily a marker of poor education. Finally, we discuss whether an educational vortex is even desirable as a pedagogical goal.


  1. Alexander, P. A. (2005). The path to competence: A lifespan developmental perspective on reading. Journal of Literacy Research, 37(4), 413–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech genres and other late essays. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bakhtin, M. M. (1990). Art and answerability: Early philosophical essays (V. Liapunov, Trans. 1st ed.). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bakhtin, M. M. (1993). Toward a philosophy of the act (1st ed.). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bakhtin, M. M. (1999). Problems of Dostoevsky’s poetics. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bakhtin, M. M. (2004). Dialogic origin and dialogic pedagogy of grammar: Stylistics in teaching Russian language in secondary school. Journal of Russian & East European Psychology, 42(6), 12–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bruner, J. (1986). Actual minds, possible words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Dewey, J. (1897). My pedagogical creed. School Journal, 54, 77–80.Google Scholar
  9. Dewey, J. (1956). The child and the curriculum and the school and society (Combined ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  10. Greenberg, D. (1992a). The birth of a new paradigm for education.
  11. Greenberg, D. (1992b). The sudbury valley school experience. Framingham, MA: Sudbury Valley School Press.Google Scholar
  12. Ito, M., Baumer, S., Bittanti, M., boyd, d., Cody, R., Stephenson, B. H., … Tripp, L. (2010). Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out: Kids living and learning with new media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Klag, P. (1994). A new look at invitational education. The Collaborator, 5(14), 1–2.Google Scholar
  14. Matusov, E. (2015). Legitimacy of non-negotiable imposition in diverse approaches to education. Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal, 3, A174–A211. Scholar
  15. Matusov, E. (2018). Chronotopic analysis of values in critical ontological dialogic pedagogy. In A. U. Branco & M. C. Lopes-de-Oliveira (Eds.), Alterity, values and socialization: Human development within educational contexts (pp. 1–29). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.Google Scholar
  16. Matusov, E., & Lemke, J. L. (2015). Values in dialogic pedagogy (editorial). Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal, 3, E1–E20. Scholar
  17. Matusov, E., & Marjanovic-Shane, A. (2012). Diverse approaches to education: Alienated learning, closed and open participatory socialization, and critical dialogue. Human Development, 55(3), 159–166. Scholar
  18. Matusov, E., & Marjanovic-Shane, A. (2017). Promoting students’ ownership of their own education through critical dialogue and democratic self-governance (editorial). Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal, 5, E1–E29. Scholar
  19. Neill, A. S. (1960). Summerhill: A radical approach to child rearing. New York, NY: Hart Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  20. Plato, & Bluck, R. S. (1961). Meno. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Rietmulder, J. (2009). The circle school: An introduction to integral education ideas and practices. Harrisburg, PA: The Circle School.Google Scholar
  22. Rousseau, J. J. (1979). Emile: Or, on education. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  23. Shor, I. (1996). When students have power: Negotiating authority in a critical pedagogy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Voloshinov, V. N. (1976). Freudianism: A Marxist critique. New York, NY: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  25. von Duyke, K. (2013). Students’ agency, autonomy, and emergent learning interests in two open democratic schools (PhD thesis). University of Delaware, Newark.Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations