Metatalk for a dialogic turn in the first years of schooling

Authored by: Christine Edwards-Groves , Christina Davidson

The Routledge International Handbook of Research on Dialogic Education

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138338517
eBook ISBN: 9780429441677
Adobe ISBN:


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The centrality of classroom talk for teaching and learning has been a substantial matter of inquiry for researchers across the globe for many decades. Howe and Abedin’s (2013) comprehensive review of 40 years of research focused on classroom talk establishes a strong foundation of influential research investigating the nature and role of talk in teaching for learning. Much of the early work, predominantly emanating from the UK (e.g. Britton, 1970; Barnes, 1976; Edwards & Westgate, 1987) and the US (e.g. Cazden, 1972, 1988; Flanders, 1970; Mehan, 1979), has been largely responsible for steering the direction of research on dialogic education beyond its taken-for-grantedness in pedagogical practice. Motivated by aspirations to understand and promote the efficacy of teaching and learning in lessons across the years of schooling, studies examining the character, influence and improvement of lesson talk and its function in establishing dialogicality have shaped educational practice worldwide. The effort in this field of educational scholarship has typically been to show how language, its structures and processes create the ways institutional talk, itself, creates conditions for educational work to be done; that is to say, education is achieved through cultural-discursive practices that influence the talk practices in schools (Kemmis & Edwards-Groves, 2018). Such classroom talk is also distinctively patterned (Alexander, 2006; Edwards & Westgate, 1987; Flanders, 1970) and noticeably different from home or community-based talk (Wells, 1981).

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