Indigenous dialogic teaching: Orality in a Tibetan school in China


This article describes the use of dialogic teaching in a rural Tibetan school in China. Using ethnographic data from a school that serves socially disadvantaged Tibetan youth, we demonstrate that dialogic teaching is a powerful pedagogy even in a resource-deprived learning environment. We describe how oral commentary, interpretive discussions, and debate form the core of effective school practices. Inspired by traditional monastic training, schoolteachers have transformed the century-long indigenous oral practices into a culturally-appropriate form of pedagogy, infusing it into modern academic subjects. This article aims to enrich the growing literature on dialogic teaching by presenting a case outside Anglo-American societies. We examine an indigenous form of dialogic teaching by considering Alexander (2017, 2020)’s framework. Our analysis shows that while the specific pedagogy is developed indigenously, it is compatible with the dialogic philosophy. The findings suggest that the dialogic approach is a general pedagogy rooted in distinctive human societies. However, indigenous development also limits the school practices to a small repertoire.

Learning, Culture and Social Interaction