About this blog

Students can feel constrained by ways of communicating and learning that seem opaque and fixed because they are permeated with norms never made explicit, knowledge they do not share, or the language of others.

Janette Ryan and Rosemary Viete
Respectful interactions: learning with international students in the English-speaking academy.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I am a Literature teacher and higher-education researcher in Melbourne, Australia. I teach only international students, in a specialised multi-disciplinary bridging program for students to enter higher education. I have a Ph.D, but am studying part-time for a graduate teaching qualification.

The socio-constructive theories and writings of Lev Vygotsky, seem particularly suited to the needs of international students in the western classroom. In most disciplines, developing a deep understanding of how language, concepts, and processes work in different social and cultural contexts is vital. I am working with one "extended" (unassessed) class, designing and experimenting with some new activities to enhance their deep understanding through knowledge creation. I want to learn as much from these students as they learn from me.

I don't find space for such diversions in my regular teaching, where the curriculum and assessment tasks are created (and fixed) for use in a team, with about 400 students between us. My aim is to also think deeply about what I want students to learn in my classes, and more importantly, why.

In this blog, I am hoping to describe, justify, and evaluate the process of practicing a consciously "constructivist" and "dialogic" pedagogy. The context will be enabling students' understanding of language connections, meanings, cultural and historical dimensions of Literature, but the pedagogies to which I will refer are interdisciplinary. My vocab (and spelling) will be Australian.

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