• Silence Is Not Always Golden in Dialogic Classrooms: Implications for High-Stakes Testing Culture, Teacher Evaluation, and Teacher Inquiry

    Richard Maurice Capozzi (see profile)
    Action research, Culture--Study and teaching, United States, Asian Americans, Language arts teachers--Training of
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    antiracism, soka, Teacher Research, Testing, Action Research, American cultural studies, Asian American, Language arts teacher education
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    A targeted literature review provides the theoretical framework for a non-participant observer study of the dynamics of student intra-group oral collaborations during an 11th grade Literature Circle project. My inquiry addresses a concern raised by progressive educators in the US that East Asian students are silent because of their race or ethnicity. I argue that that is not the case. Silence represents cultural difference; an antiracist stance rejects seeing oral collaboration as a hierarchical cultural standard, since both silence and speech can be either progressive or maladaptive. A qualitative analysis of two representative student groups shows that students can exhibit traits of either a ‘dynamic-learning frame’ or ‘fixed-performance frame’ regardless of ethnic origin. Although East Asian students may be reluctant to voice their ideas in dialogic settings due to cultural reasons, soliciting oral participation, an ideal of American progressive pedagogy, need not be branded an act of cultural racism. On the contrary, the aims of the dialogic classroom are consistent with those of social and emotional learning (SEL), culturally and historically responsive literacy (HRL), and Soka education’s concept of global citizenship. Acknowledgement of the personal and cognitive advantages of the ‘dynamic-learning frame,’ which can be fostered by a dialogic or progressive, and constructivist pedagogy leads to a critique of: 1) the policy shortcomings of high-stakes testing culture because it tends to forestall the development of a ‘dynamic-learning frame,’ empathy, socio-political awareness, and deep understanding of content among students due to the high levels of stress that it engenders in NextGeners; and 2) the limitations of a teacher evaluation system that has been so pared down that it no longer supplies vitally needed feedback to teachers on their SEL practices, thus making ‘equity for all’ a more elusive reality.
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    4 years ago
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