Chapter 2.4: Teacher–Student Power Relations in Bakhtinian Pedagogy

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


Modern conventional schools remain bastions of the feudal social and political relations based on highly hierarchical, nonnegotiable, authoritarianism, even in countries with liberal democracies as their political system (Sidorkin, Learning relations: Impure education, deschooled schools, & dialogue with evil. New York, NY: P. Lang, 2002). The teacher–student power relations are hierarchical and authoritarian, where the school authorities define almost all aspects of education for the students. However, authoritarian power relations create an educational paradox: they create dogmatic thinking based on authority, instead of genuine education which requires students’ free and critical thinking, where the truth can be established in dialogue, by empirical evidence, argument, reasoning, logic, testing alternative ideas, observations, experiments. Nevertheless, rather than establishing power-free relationships, the Enlightenment thinkers and their followers have tried to ameliorate or to hide, but still keep, the power and control of the educational authority. The issue for many of the Bakhtinian educators, raised by the Enlightenment, is whether free-thinking can emerge from any limited or invisible or dying out authoritarianism or from a dialogue free of coercion as a social and political precursor of free thinking.


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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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