June 9, 2024

Pupils’ voices: Navigating multiple perspectives in dialogue

Guest Blog: Dr Victoria Cook, Chartered College of Teaching

The pupil voice movement, which has become a worldwide movement of change in education (Rudduck and McIntyre, 2007), was given impetus by Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (1989). This states that every child has the right to express their views freely in all matters affecting them and to have their views taken into consideration.

Of course, when seeking to include and listen to the ideas of others, we might not all agree. Learning how to engage in dialogue with people who hold different values to us is therefore crucial. As teachers, how can we support children to deal positively with uncertainty as they learn to navigate multiple perspectives in dialogue, ensuring that we do not gloss over differences that may reflect deep divisions?

Firstly, it is important to understand that not all discussions lead to an agreement. In practice, this means asking ‘authentic’ questions where there is no prespecified answer (Nystrand & Gamoran, 1991). An authentic question aims to generate genuine discussions where pupils may hold differing views. In seeking to explore what pupils think, rather than playing a game of ‘guess what is in the teacher’s head’, pupils’ opinions and experiences are valued. For example, asking pupils to discuss ‘why do you think people drop litter?’ is very different to asking them ‘should you drop litter?’ (Cook et al., 2022).

Navigating multiple perspectives in dialogue also requires a positive, open and flexible attitude towards uncertainty. Hypothetical, or provisional, language can be useful here. Words such as might / maybe / could / perhaps allow pupils to put forward ideas tentatively, helping pupils to feel more comfortable with uncertainty as ideas are gently poked and prodded by others. Pupils also need to be taught how to disagree respectfully and understand that it is acceptable to change one’s mind.

Ultimately, in generating genuine discussions where pupils might hold differing views, the aim is to encourage multiple perspectives to not only be accepted, but celebrated.

References/Further reading:

  • Convention on the rights of the child (1989) Treaty no. 27531. United Nations Treaty Series, 1577, pp. 3-178. Available at: https://treaties.un.org/doc/Treaties/1990/09/19900902%2003-14%20AM/Ch_IV_11p.pdf (Accessed: 23 May 2024).
  • Cook, V., Maine, F., Fozzard, L. & McCaughran, B. (2022). Building cultural literacy through dialogue. In (Ed) Unleashing Children’s Voices in New Democratic Primary Education, Taylor & Francis, 145-159.
  • Nystrand, M., & Gamoran, A. (1991). Instructional discourse, student engagement, and literature achievement. Research in the Teaching of English, 25, 261-290.
  • Rudduck, J. & McIntyre, D. (2007). Improving learning: The pupils’ agenda. London and New York: Routledge.

Share this post

Similar Posts

Pupils’ voices: Navigating multiple perspectives in dialogue

Guest Blog: Dr Victoria Cook, Chartered College of Teaching The pupil voice movement, which has become a worldwide movement of change in education (Rudduck and …

Read More →

Race, Identity and School Leadership

Guest Blog from Viv Grant, Founder & Director of Integrity Coaching

Read More →

Creating a coaching culture in schools

Help to create a supportive climate where everyone can flourish… Creating a coaching culture in schools can, ‘create positive and supportive organisational climates for personal …

Read More →

Leading Primary Writing Effectively

Rising to the challenge in Norfolk In 2022/23 Norfolk schools are seeing attainment gaps in KS2 writing expected standard of 7 points below national average, …

Read More →

Does raising aspirations help raise pupil outcomes?

Does raising aspirations help raise pupil outcomes? A lack of aspiration can be cited as a reason for poor student outcomes in areas of high …

Read More →

Great teaching – the key to improving outcomes

We are at an important time in education where the delivery of the high quality curriculum needs to be of highest priority. Pedagogical approaches need …

Read More →